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" Truth is stranger than fiction." 


: Kir st t Edition - ( - - 1883. 

Second Edition, altered and revised 1914. 





Alexander Mackenzie on the Clearances, - 19 

The Rev. Donald Sage on the Sutherland Clearances, - 32 

General Stewart of Garth on the Sutherland Clearances, 41 

Hugh Miller on the Sutherland Clearances, 52 

Mr. James I,och on Sutherland Improvements, - 69 
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe on the Sutherland Clearances, 78 

Reply to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe by Donald Macleod, 88 



Glencalvie, - - 128 

The Eviction of the Rosses, - 134 

Kin tail, 143 

Coigeach, 144 

Strathconon, - 144 

The Black Isle, - - 146 

The Island of Lewis, - 147 

Mr. Alexander Mackenzie on the Leckmelm Evictions, 149 

I/ochcarron, - 161 

The 78th Highlanders, - - 167 
The Rev. Dr. John Kennedy on the Ross-shire Clearances, 169 


Glengarry, - 170 

Strathglass, - - 187 

Guisachan, - 193 

Glenelg, - 194 

Glendesseray and Locharkaig, - 196 




North Uist, - - 198 

Boreraig and Suisinish, Isle of Skye, - 202 

A Contrast, - - 212 

South Uist and Barra, - - 213 

The Island of Rum, - 222 


The Island of Mull, 228 

Ardnamurchan, - - 232 

Morven, - 235 

Glenorchy, - 237 


Arran, 240 


Rannoch, - 242 

Breadalbane, - 245 


The Rev. Dr. Maclachlan, - 247 

A Highland Sheriff, 253 

The Wizard of the North, 254 

A Continental Historian, - 254 

Mr. Alfred Russel Wallace, - 255 

A French Economist, - - 259 

Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, - - 263 

Hardships Endured by First Emigrants, 264 

An Evicting Agent, - 271 

An Octogenarian Gael, - - 274 


Showing the Population in 1831, 1841, 1851, 1881, and 
1 91 1 , of all Parishes in whole or in part in the Coun- 
ties of Perth, Argyll, Inverness, Ross and 
Cromarty, Caithness, and Sutherland, - - 278-282 




MACKENZIE'S History of the Highland Clearances, 
with its thrilling and almost incredible narratives 
of oppression and eviction, has been for a long time 
out of print. In view of the current movement, 
described by Mr. Asquith as an "organised campaign 
against the present system of land tenure," it has 
occurred to the holder of the copyright, Mr. Eneas 
Mackay, publisher, Stirling, that, at the present 
juncture, a re-issue might be expediently prepared. 
He recognised that the story of the great upheaval 
which, early in the nineteenth century, took place 
among the Highland crofters would be of undoubted 
interest and utility to those who follow the efforts now 
put forth to settle the land question in Scotland. At 
his request I readily undertook the task of re-editing. 
The circumstances, or points of view, having changed 
in no slight measure since the first appearance of the 
work, I decided to subject it to a pretty thorough 
revision to excise a large mass of irrelevant matter 
and to introduce several fresh articles. Donald 
Macleod's " Gloomy Memories " are omitted out of 
considerations for space, and because it is proposed to 
reprint them shortly in a separate form. There is 
included, for the first time, a vindication of the 
Sutherland Clearances by Mrs. Harriet Beecher 
Stowe, author of " Uncle Tom's Cabin," and another 
by Mr. James Loch, principal factor on the Sutherland 


Estates during the time the removals were carried 
out. There are also given graphic and realistic word 
pictures of these evictions by the Rev. Donald Sage. 
The general arrangement of the book has been 
altered to the extent of grouping together the accounts 
relating to each particular county, and descriptions 
are added of a number of Clearances which were not 
dealt with in the first edition. 

I have pleasure in acknowledging my indebtedness 
to Mr. Ian Macpherson, M.P., and Dr. J; H. 
Fullarton, London, for kindly looking over the proofs. 

Special and very sincere thanks are due to Mr. 
John Henderson, secretary of the National Library 
Club, London, who manifested the kindest and 
liveliest interest in the undertaking. Not only did 
he read the proofs with scrupulous care, but he was 
ever ready to give advice and offer suggestions when 
cases of doubt arose. To me, one of the most 
pleasant memories connected with the labour of 
editing is the valuable assistance always so promptly 
and cheerfully given by Mr. Henderson. 

I greatly appreciate the courtesy shown by Messrs. 
Daniel Ross & Co., Ltd., publishers, Wick, in per- 
mitting extracts to be taken from Mr. Sage's 
Memorabilia Domestica. 

Regarding the Publisher, I may be permitted to 
mention that he rendered my task very easy by 
providing, sometimes at considerable trouble and 
expense, all works of reference which I considered 
would be of service in endeavouring to make this 
History thoroughly accurate and reliable. 


IT is with great pleasure that I accede to the request 
that I should write a short introduction to welcome this 
reprint of so interesting and valuable a book as Mac- 
kenzie's Highland Clearances. It has long been out of 
print, which anyone who recalls its first appearance will 
easily understand. It was written by a Highlander who 
commanded in a great measure the esteem of Highlanders, 
and it collected for the first time the sane and 
authenticated accounts of the experience of the 
Highlanders in the great agrarian crisis of their 
history. It appealed to the race as no book within recent 
years has done. The Highlander loves his past and his 
native land with a passionate attachment, and the story 
of the great wrongs of the days of the clearances is still 
deeply embedded in his mind. Within the last year or 
two many accounts, more or less imaginary, have ap- 
peared purporting to be true stories of those terrible days 
in the north, and it is peculiarly appropriate that, when 
once again men's minds are centred on the great problem 
of the land in this country as a whole, and specific atten- 
tion has been directed towards the Highlands, tl*s 
reprint should now appear. We are all, therefore, under 
deep obligations to the public spirit and enterprize of the 
publishers and others who have been good enough to 
secure in an accessible form a reliable account of the 
conditions and events which at once intensified the 
acuteness of the land-hunger in the Highlands and con- 
stituted the blackest page in Highland history. 

Many evil deeds have been associated with the abuse 
of the monopoly power of land ownership in this and 
other countries, but it is safe to say that nowhere within 
the limits of those islands, or, indeed, anywhere else at 


any time have blacker or more foul deeds been com- 
mitted in the sacred name of property than in the 
Highlands of Scotland in those days. It has always been 
a matter of astonishment that a brave race should ever 
have submitted to them. This becomes all the more 
remarkable, too, when one remembers that during those 
very years regiments raised in these very districts of the 
finest soldiers who ever marched to the stirring strains of 
the bagpipes, were gaining for the empire and for British 
arms the most noted achievements ever won in the 
Napoleonic wars and in the colonies. It is true, of course, 
and it is an eternal discredit, that many of these brave 
fellows came back wounded and war-scarred to find, not 
that a grateful country had taken care that the homes 
and the helpless ones they had left behind were kept 
sacred and immune from the greed and ruthless 
savagery of the landlord or his hirelings, but that their 
hearths and homes were desecrated and destroyed, and 
every moral law of patriotism and honour had been 
violated. " Their humble dwellings," says Hugh Miller, 
" were of their own rearing ] it was they themselves who 
had broken in their little fields from the waste ; from time 
immemorial, far beyond the reach of history, they had 
possessed their mountain holdings, they had defended 
them so well of old that the soil was still virgin ground, 
in which the invader had found only a grave * and their 
young men were now in foreign lands fighting at the com- 
mand of their chieftainess the battles of their country, 
not in the character of hired soldiers, but of men who 
regarded these very holdings as their stake in the 
quarrel." Well has my friend Mackenzie MacBride 
expressed it : 

" Ye remnant of the brave ! 

Who charge when the pipes are heard ; 

Don't think, my lads, that you fight for your own, 

'Tis but for the good of the land. 

And when the fight is done 

And you come back over the foam, 

' Well done,' they say, ' you are good and true, 

But we cannot give you a home. 


' For the hill we want for the deer, 
And the glen the birds enjoy, 
And bad for the game is the smoke of the cot, 
And the song of the crofter's boy.' ' 

The silence with which men of that calibre met these 
hardships and cruelty might well remain an enigma to 
one who does not know the Highlands. They knew that 
for centuries their ancestors had tilled those lands and 
lived free and untrammelled. By every moral law, if 
not by the law of the land, they had a right to the soil 
which had been defended with their own right arm and 
that of their ancestors. These were the days when they 
were useful to the chief, who assumed some indefinable 
right to the land. But the day came after the <( Forty- 
Five " when men were no longer assets to the chief. 
His territorial jurisdiction was broken. He wanted 
money, not men, and the lonely silences of the hills 
instead of merry laughter and prattle of children singing 
graces by the wayside. And these men bore the change 
which meant so much to them with patience. Why ? 
The Highlands were permeated then as now with a deep 
religious sense. They lent a willing ear to the teachings 
of the ministers of the Gospel, who wielded the power of 
the iron hand which left its deep impress on the social life 
and even the literature of the Highlands. They re- 
garded the minister as the stern oracle of truth, and the 
strict interpreter of the meaning of the ways of God to 
man. What happened was right. And a perusal of the 
pages that are to follow will show what a mean use many 
of these ministers made of the power which their faithful 
flock believed was vested in them. These men were 
with a noble exception or two in reality the servile tools 
of the " estate " whose powers they feared, and whose 
support they received. In their own interests and in 
those of their earthly lord and master, they assured the 
people that all their troubles were but part of the punish- 
ment inflicted on them by Providence in the course of 
working out their redemption ! This attitude of the minis- 
ters had another significance. In many parishes they 


were the only persons who were educated enough to write, 
and so able to express the wrongs which their people 
were called upon to endure. But their voices were silent 
and their pens were idle, except, indeed, when they were 
used to ennoble the character, the prestige, and the 
benevolence of the evicting tyrant ! 

If they were thus comparatively passive in their 
" white-washing," there were others openly active. In 
Hugh Miller's words. " Ever since the planning of the 
fatal experience which ruined Sutherland, the noble 
family through which it was originated and carried on, 
had betrayed the utmost jealousy in having its real result 
made public. Volumes of special pleading have been 
written on the subject. Pamphlets have been published, 
laboured articles have been inserted in widely-spread 
reviews statistical accounts have been watched over 
with the utmost surveillance. If the misrepresentations 
of the press could have altered the matter of fact, famine 
would not now be gnawing the vitals of Sutherland in a 
year a little less abundant than its predecessors, nor would 
the dejected and oppressed people be feeding their dis- 
content amid present misery, with the recollections of a 
happier past. If a singularly well-conditioned and 
wholesome district of country has been converted into one 
wide ulcer of wretchedness and woe, it must be confessed 
that the sore has been carefully bandaged up from the 
public eye that if there has been little done for its cure, 
there has at least been much done for its concealment." 
And then he goes on to say, " It has been said that the 
Gaelic language removed a district more effectually from 
the influence of English opinion than an ocean of three 
thousand miles, and that the British public know better 
what is doing in New York than what is doing in Lewis 
or Skye." And so the House of Sutherland inveigles 
Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, fresh from her literary 
triumphs in the American environment of " Uncle Tom's 
Cabin," with no knowledge of the Gaelic language which 
" separated so effectually the district in which it was 
spoken " from English public opinion, but in which lan- 
guage alone grievances were likely to be expressed, to 


write a grovelling apology. This she does, forsooth, in 
" Sunny Memories," when the hearts and the spirits of 
the people outside the circle in which she was receiving 
well-merited, if short, hospitality were broken ! Readers 
of the " Clearances " will notice how completely Donald 
M'Leod, whose name every lover of nobility of character, 
courage, and justice will ever honour, demolishes her 
insipid table-talk. An even worse type of white- washer 
was James I/och, who is now put forward as an unbiassed 
and disinterested observer of the gracious benevolence 
and marvellous generosity of the House of Sutherland. 
It was not mentioned that he was the factor for the then 

The most notorious of all the evictions were the Suther- 
landshire ones, and though there are many accounts 
of them in this volume, the gruesomeness of which has 
become a bye-word, they do not tell the whole tale. 
Since this question was revived during these last few 
months, I have had letters from descendants of the 
evicted from all over the colonies with new and conclusive 
proofs of the recklessness and severity which characterised 
them. A factor visited a township in western Suther- 
land, and went towards the house of the great grand- 
mother of one correspondent. He met her as she was 
returning from milking the cows carrying a wooden 
vessel of milk. Brutally he snatched it from her, and to 
use his words, " drowned for ever the fire of her hearth 
with it," and then drove her and her children to search 
through great privation for some foothold on rugged 
ground beside the western sea. When this factor died, 
his body was carried through another township. The 
sympathy of the people was but slight, for they remem- 
bered his cruelty. An old woman expressed the general, 
but hitherto suppressed, feeling of the community when 
she said, " Cha deach am maor riamh troimh na bhaile 
cho samhach sa chaidh e an duigh " (" The factor never 
went through this township so peacefully as he went 
to-day "). 

If, as Hugh Miller says, there has been no lack of pro- 
essional white-washers, there has equally been no lack 


of testimony, straight and true, from the hearts of the 
people, in bitter lamentation over the cruelty that befel 
the race at the hands of mercenary landlords. This testi- 
mony does not come from one class nor from one county. 
I have shown in another place how even Dr. John- 
son, who loved neither the Scots nor their traditions, 
found himself " full of the old Highland spirit, and was 
dissatisfied at hearing of rack rents and emigration," and 
was compelled to remark, " A rapacious chief would make 
a wilderness of his estate ; " how unprejudiced writers 
like Mrs. Grant of I/aggan bemoaned the rapacity of those 
who drove away the descendants of men whom their 
fathers led ; and how bitterly a scholar like Professor 
Blackie viewed the depopulated glens where once heroes 
lived and fought. The bitterest note of all, as well as the 
truest, is sung by the Gaelic bards. They were of the 
people, and lived among them. They knew their feelings, 
none better, and it was their right to express that feeling 
with truth and with fearlessness in the language of the 
people. And I know of no bard in any county in the 
Highlands who has not vigorously denounced in some way 
the cruelty to which his people were arbitrarily subjected. 
It was a blow to them to find that chiefs of the old school 
had departed, that a change in Gaelic, change is the best 
word for death had taken place from the spirit of the 
chief who said, " I would rather drink punch in the 
house of my people than be enabled by their hardships to 
drink claret in my own." Well might a good Celt of a 
later day have written of the new type of so-called chief : 

" See that you kindly use them, O man 

To whom God giveth 
Stewardship over them in thy short span, 

Not for thy pleasure ; 
Woe be to them who choose for a clan 

Four-footed people." 

Take the Islay bard. He seeks to arouse our in- 
dignation because of glens and hillsides reft of men to 
work and fight and of children who might sing to Nature 
and her God. Clearly his patriotic soul is sorely bur- 


dened : the cold iron that has entered into it has made his 
soul terribly bitter. " Facit indignatio versus." When 
he looks around and thinks of the days that were, his 
spirit is that of blood and carnage. He describes the 
hills that he loves with wonderful grace of diction ; he 
hears a song or two shieling songs of marvellous 
beauty, and " shieling songs contain many soft, siren 
strains, which were believed to have their source in fairy- 
land," for their airs came from the good folk of the hills. 
But these things do not tempt him long ; he is soon back 
again to the point that was sorest of all to him the 
desolate glens and the hillsides " left to be garrisoned by 
the lonely shepherd." Some of the poets were sportsmen 
like Duncan M'Intyre. Their grievance was always 
against the sheep, and the lowland shepherds, who 
desecrated for filthy lucre the hills which were their 
birthright and who spoke an alien tongue which fright- 
ened even the echoes ! 

Deer and sporting rights (after game laws were enacted) 
soon became more profitable than sheep, and it is amusing 
to find controversialists of to-day attempting to show that 
evictions never took place on account of deer forests. It 
was not the fault of the landlords that they did not. 
Evictions took place for the object that was at the 
moment most profitable. The Napoleonic wars made 
sheep runs temporarily more profitable ; but the moment 
there was more profit to be obtained from sport and deer 
forests, then deer forests were to a large extent substi- 
tuted for sheep runs. To-day there are over three million 
acres in Northern Scotland alone devoted to these pre- 
serves; and in 1892 the Deer Forest Commission scheduled 
over one million seven hundred thousand acres as being 
fit for small-holding purposes. The casual reader must 
beware, and must notice that this vast number of acres 
includes grazing lands also, otherwise critics who " avow- 
edly represent the landlord interests" may feel aggrieved. 
But it will also be remembered that evictions primarily 
took place for grazing purposes ; and further, that a 
small holding in Scotland is not quite the same as a small 
holding in England. In England it consists of a number 


of acres which are under cultivation ; in Scotland, I am 
referring, of course, to the deer forest country, it consists 
of some acres of cultivated land with very often a very 
large common outrun in moorland and hills for the town- 
ship. So that when the uninitiated see pictures of deer 
forests that are said to be fit for small-holding purposes, 
they will now understand and suppress a smile. If only 
men could realise what can be produced out of what might 
appear to be the most impossible places ! It has been 
said that if you give a man the secure possession of a 
rock, he will turn it into a garden, and one has only got 
to visit the Highlands to see how a hard-working and 
industrious peasantry have sought in this way with suc- 
cess to fight against the ills with which they were con- 
fronted by an ungrateful landlordism. One of the worst 
features of the " Clearances " was the method in which 
they were perpetrated. Examples will be found in these 
pages of sick people being carried out of their houses, and 
left on the wayside when their houses were in flames, and 
the present locations of some of the crofters are grim re- 
minders of the extreme privations suffered by the people 
who settled in them. Perched on the rocks and moor- 
lands, these people were driven from the inland valleys, 
and had to build themselves shelters from the turf and 
stones of the hillside, and carve out of barren land with 
enormous industry, and under the constant menace of 
famine, the miserable patches of land which remain to- 
day as evidence of their labours. The others were forced 
to emigrate, and the sufferings of those who survived 
well-nigh baffle description. The horrors of the small 
emigrant sailing ships of these days, and particularly on 
these occasions when people were packed together regard- 
less of comfort and the decencies of life, and without 
sufficient food, were equalled only by the terrible priva- 
tions and struggle for existence that awaited those who 
landed on the frozen lands of the north of Canada, to 
be assailed by hostile Indians, the rigours of the weather, 
and the desolation of an unfriendly country. It is alto- 
gether a tale of barbarous action unequalled in the 
annals of agrarian crime. 


And need I do more than add what one who will 
never be regarded other than as a typical Tory, has 
written : " In too many instances the Highlands have been 
drained, not of their superfluity of population, but of the 
whole mass of the inhabitants, dispossessed by an unre- 
lenting avarice, which will one day be found to have been 
as shortsighted as it is selfish and unjust. Meantime, the 
Highlands may become the fairy ground for romance and 
poetry, or the subject of experiment for the professors of 
speculation, historical and economical. But, if the hour 
of need should come, the pibroch may sound through the 
deserted region, but the summons will remain unan- 
swered." These are the words of Sir Walter Scott. 


Highland Clearances. 



O give a proper account of the Sutherland 
Clearances would take a bulky volume. Indeed, 
a large tome of 354 pages has been written 
and published in their defence by him who was 
mainly responsible for them, called " An 
Account of the Sutherland Improvements," by James 
Loch, at that time Commissioner for the Marchioness of 
Stafford and heiress of Sutherland. This was the first 
account I ever read of these so-called improvements ; 
and it was quite enough to convince me, and it will be 
sufficient to convince anyone who knows anything of the 
country, that the improvement of the people, by driving 
them in the most merciless and cruel manner from the 
homes of their fathers, was carried out on a huge scale 
and in the most inconsiderate and heartless manner by 
those in charge of the Sutherland estates. But when 
one reads the other side, Macleod's " Gloomy Memories," 
General Stewart of Garth's " Sketches of the High- 
landers," and other contemporary publications, one 
wonders that such iniquities could ever have been per- 
mitted in any Christian country, much more so in Great 
Britain, which has done so much for the amelioration 
of subject races and the oppressed in every part of the 
world, while her own brave sons have been persecuted, 

* Mackenzie's Pamphlet, 1881. 


oppress^, ^bd banished without compensation by greedy 
and cold-blooded proprietors, who owed their position 
: anil.'thear ilanids to the ancestors of the very men they were 
now treating so cruelly. 

The motives of the landlords, generally led by southern 
factors worse than themselves, were, in most cases, pure 
self-interest, and they pursued their policy of extermina- 
tion with a recklessness and remorselessness unparalleled 
anywhere else where the Gospel of peace and charity was 
preached except, perhaps, unhappy Ireland. Generally, 
law and justice, religion and humanity, were either 
totally disregarded, or, what was worse, in many cases 
converted into and applied as instruments of oppression. 
Every conceivable means, short of the musket and the 
sword, were used to drive the natives from the land they 
loved, and to force them to exchange their crofts and 
homes brought originally into cultivation and built 
by themselves, or by their forefathers for wretched 
patches among the barren rocks on the sea shore, and to 
depend, after losing their cattle and their sheep, and after 
having their houses burnt about their ears or razed to the 
ground, on the uncertain produce of the sea for sub- 
sistence, and that in the case of a people, who, in many 
instances, and especially in Sutherlandshire, were totally 
unacquainted with a seafaring life, and quite unfitted 
to contend with its perils. 

What was true generally of the Highlands, was in 
the county of Sutherland carried to the greatest ex- 
treme. That unfortunate county, according to an 
eye-witness, was made another Moscow. The inhabi- 
tants were literally burnt out, and every contrivance 
and ingenious and unrelenting cruelty was eagerly 
adopted for extirpating the race. Many lives were 
sacrificed by famine and other hardships and priva- 
tions ; hundreds, stripped of their all, emigrated to 
the Canadas and other parts of America ; great numbers, 
especially of the young and athletic, sought employment 
in the Lowlands and in England, where, few of them 
being skilled workmen, they were obliged even farmers 
who had lived in comparative affluence in their own 


country to compete with common labourers, in com- 
munities where their language and simple manners 
rendered them objects of derision and ridicule. The aged 
and infirm, the widows and orphans, with those of their 
families who could not think of leaving them alone in 
their helplessness, and a number, whose attachment 
to the soil which contained the ashes of their ancestors, 
were induced to accept of the wretched allotments 
offered them on the wild moors and barren rocks. The 
mild nature and religious training of the Highlanders 
prevented a resort to that determined resistance and 
revenge which has repeatedly set bounds to the rapacity 
of landlords in Ireland. Their ignorance of the English 
language, and the want of natural leaders, made it im- 
possible for them to make their grievances known to 
the outside world. They were, therefore, maltreated 
with impunity. The ministers generally sided with the 
oppressing lairds, who had the Church patronage at their 
disposal for themselves and for their sons. The professed 
ministers of religion sanctioned the iniquity, " the foulest 
deeds were glossed over, and all the evil which could not 
be attributed to the natives themselves, such as severe 
seasons, famines, and consequent disease, was by these 
pious gentlemen ascribed to Providence, as a punishment 
for sin." 

The system of turning out the ancient inhabitants 
from their native soil throughout the Highlands during 
the first half of the nineteenth century has been carried 
into effect in the county of Sutherland with greater 
severity and revolting cruelt}^ than in any other part of 
the Highlands, and that though the Countess-Marchioness 
and her husband, the Marquis of Stafford, were by no 
means devoid of humanity, however atrocious and devoid 
of human feeling were the acts carried out in their name 
by heartless underlings, who represented the ancient 
tenantry to their superiors as lazy and rebellious, though, 
they maintained, everything was being done for their 
advantage and improvement. How this was done will 
be seen in the sequel. South countrymen were intro- 
duced and the land given to them for sheep farms over 


the heads of the native tenantry. These strangers were 
made justices of the peace and armed with all sorts of 
authority in the county, and thus enabled to act in the 
most harsh and tyrannical fashion, none making them 
afraid ; while the oppressed natives were placed com- 
pletely at their mercy. They dare not even complain, 
for were not their oppressors also the administrators of 
the law? The seventeen parish ministers, with the single 
exception of the Rev. Mr. Sage, took the side of the powers 
that were, exhorting the people to submit and to stifle 
their cries of distress, telling them that all their sufferings 
came from the hand of their Heavenly Father as a pun- 
ishment for their past transgressions. Most of these 
ministers have since rendered their account, and let us 
hope they have been forgiven for such cruel and blas- 
phemous conduct. But one cannot help noting, to what 
horrid uses these men in Sutherlandshire and elsewhere 
prostituted their sacred office and high calling. 

The Sutherland clearances were commenced in a com- 
paratively mild way in 1807, by the ejection of ninety 
families from Farr and Lairg. These were provided for 
some fifteen or seventeen miles distant with smaller lots, 
to which they were permitted to remove their cattle and 
plenishing, leaving their crops unprotected, however, 
in the ground from which they were evicted. They had 
to pull down their old houses, remove the timber, and 
build new ones, during which period they had in many 
cases to sleep under the open canopy of heaven. In the 
autumn they carried away, with great difficulty, what 
remained of their crops, but the fatigue incurred cost a 
few of them their lives, while others contracted diseases 
which stuck to them during the remainder of their lives, 
and shortened their days. 

In 1809 several hundred were evicted from the parishes 
of Dornoch, Rogart, Loth, Clyne, and Golspie, under 
circumstances of much greater severity than those already 
described. Several were driven by various means to 
leave the country altogether, and to those who could not 
be induced to do so, patches of moor and bog were offered 
on Dornoch Moor and Brora Links quite unfit for cul- 


tivation. This process was carried on annually until, 
in 1811, the land from which the people were ejected 
was divided into large farms, and advertised as huge sheep 
runs. The country was overrun with strangers who came 
to look at these extensive tracts. Some of these gentle- 
men got up a cry that they were afraid of their lives 
among the evicted tenantry. A trumped-up story was 
manufactured that one of the interlopers was pursued 
by some of the natives of Kildonan, and put in bodily 
fear. The military were sent for from Fort George. 
The 2ist Regiment was marched to Dunrobin Castle, 
with artillery and cartloads of ammunition. A great 
farce was performed ; the people were sent for by the 
factors to the Castle at a certain hour. They came 
peaceably, but the farce must be gone through, the Riot 
Act was read ) a few sheepish, innocent Highlanders 
were made prisoners, but nothing could be laid to their 
charge, and they were almost immediately set at liberty, 
while the soldiers were ordered back to Fort George. 
The demonstration, however, had the desired effect in 
cowing and frightening the people into the most absolute 
submission. They became dismayed and broken- 
hearted, and quietly submitted to their fate. The clergy 
all this time were assiduous in preaching that all the 
misfortunes of the people were " fore-ordained of God, 
and denouncing the vengeance of Heaven and eternal 
damnation on all those who would presume to make the 
slightest resistance." At the May term of 1812 large 
districts of these parishes were cleared in the most peace- 
able manner, the poor creatures foolishly believing the 
false teaching of their selfish and dishonest spiritual 
guides save the mark ! The Earl of Selkirk, who went 
personally to the district, allured many of the evicted 
people to emigrate to his estates on the Red River in 
British North America, whither a whole ship-cargo of 
them went. After a long and otherwise disastrous 
passage they found themselves deceived and deserted 
by the Earl, left to their unhappy fate in an inclement 
wilderness, without any protection from the hordes of 
Red Indian savaees bv whom the district WPS infested, 


and who plundered them of their all on their arrival 
and finally massacred them, save a small remnant who 
managed to escape, and travelled, through immense 
difficulties, across trackless forests to Upper Canada. 

The notorious Mr. Sellar was at this time sub-factor, 
and in the spring of 1814 he took a large portion of the 
parishes of Farr and Kildonan into his own hands. In 
the month of March the old tenantry received notices 
to quit at the ensuing May term, and a few days after the 
summonses were served the greater portion of the heath 
pasture was, by his orders, set on fire. By this cruel 
proceeding the cattle belonging to the old tenantry were 
left without food during the spring, and it was impossible 
to dispose of them at a fair price, the price having fallen 
after the war ; for Napoleon was now a prisoner in Elba, 
and the demand for cattle became temporarily dull, and 
prices very much reduced. To make matters worse, 
fodder was unusually scarce this spring, and the poor 
people's cattle depended for subsistence solely on the 
spring grass which sprouts out among the heather, but 
which this year had been burnt by the factor who would 
himself reap the benefit when he came into possession 
later on. 

In May the work of ejectment was again commenced, 
accompanied by cruelties hitherto unknown even in the 
Highlands. Atrocities were perpetrated which I cannot 
trust myself to describe in my own words. I shall give 
what is much more valuable a description by an eye- 
witness in his own language. He says : In former 
removals the tenants had been allowed to carry away the 
timber of their old dwellings to erect houses on their new 
allotments, but now a more summary mode was adopted 
by setting fire to them. The able-bodied men were by 
this time away after their cattle or otherwise engaged 
at a distance, so that the immediate sufferers by the 
general house-burning that now commenced were the 
aged and infirm, the women and children. As the lands 
were now in the hands of the factor himself, and were to 
be occupied as sheep farms, and as the people made no 
resistance, they expected, at least, some indulgence in 


the way of permission to occupy their houses and other 
buildings till they could gradually remove, and mean- 
while look after their growing crops. Their consterna- 
tion was therefore greater, when immediately after the 
May term-day, a commencement was made to pull down 
and set fire to the houses over their heads. The old 
people, women and others, then began to preserve the 
timber which was their own ; but the devastators pro- 
ceeded with the greatest celerity, demolishing all before 
them, and when they had overthrown all the houses in a 
large tract of country they set fire to the wreck. Tim- 
ber, furniture, and every other article that could not be 
instantly removed was consumed by fire or otherwise 
utterly destroyed. The proceedings were carried on with 
the greatest rapidity and the most reckless cruelty. The 
cries of the victims, the confusion, the despair and horror 
painted on the countenances of the one party, and the 
exulting ferocity of the other, beggar all description. 
At these scenes Mr. Sellar was present, and apparently, 
as sworn by several witnesses at his subsequent trial, 
ordering and directing the whole. Many deaths ensued 
from alarm, from fatigue, and cold, the people having 
been instantly deprived of shelter, and left to the mercies 
of the elements. Some old men took to the woods and 
to the rocks, wandering about in a state approaching 
to, or of absolute, insanity j and several of them in this 
situation lived only a few days. Pregnant women were 
taken in premature labour, and several children did not 
long survive their sufferings. " To these scenes," says 
Donald Macleod*, "I was an eye-witness, and am ready to 
substantiate the truth of my statements, not only by my 
own testimony, but by that of many others who were 
present at the time. In such a scene of general devasta- 
tion, it is almost useless to particularise the cases of 
individuals ; the suffering was great and universal. 
I shall, however, notice a very few of the extreme cases 
of which I was myself an eye-witness. John Mackay's 
wife, Ravigill, in attempting to pull down her house, in 

* Author of "Gloomy Memories," etc. 


the absence of her husband, to preserve the timber, fell 
through the roof. She was in consequence taken in 
premature labour, and in that state was exposed to the 
open air and to the view of all the by-standers. Donald 
Munro, Garvott, lying in a fever, was turned out of his 
house and exposed to the elements. Donald Macbeath, 
an infirm and bed-ridden old man, had the house unroofed 
over him, and was in that state exposed to the wind and 
rain until death put a period to his sufferings. I was 
present at the pulling down and burning of the house of 
William Chisholm, Badinloskin, in which was lying his 
wife's mother, an old bed-ridden woman of nearly 100 
years of age, none of the family being present. I in- 
formed the persons about to set fire to the house of this 
circumstance, and prevailed on them to wait until Mr. 
Sellar came. On his arrival, I told him of the poor old 
woman being in a condition unfit for removal, when he 
replied, ' Damn her, the old witch, she has lived too 
long let her burn/ Fire was immediately set to the 
house, and the blankets in which she was carried out were 
in flames before she could be got out. She was placed in a 
little shed, and it was with great difficulty they were pre- 
vented from firing it also. The old woman's daughter 
arrived while the house was on fire, and assisted the neigh- 
bours in removing her mother out of the flames and 
smoke, presenting a picture of horror which I shall never 
forget, but cannot attempt to describe." Within five 
days she was a corpse. 

In 1816 Sellar was charged at Inverness, before the 
Court of Justiciary, with culpable homicide and fire- 
raising in connection with these proceedings, and, con- 
sidering all the circumstances, it is not at all surprising 
that he was " honourably " acquitted of the grave charges 
made against him. Almost immediately after, however, 
he ceased to be factor on the Sutherland estates, and Mr. 
Loch came into power. Evictions were carried out from 
1814 down to 1819 and 1820, pretty much of the same 
character as those already described, but the removal of 
Mr. Young, the chief factor, and Mr. Sellar from power 
was hailed with delight by the whole remaining popula- 


tion. Their very names had become a terror. Their 
appearance in any part of the county caused such alarm 
as to make women fall into fits. One woman became so 
terrified that she became insane, and whenever she saw 
any one she did not recognise, she invariably cried out in a 
state of absolute terror "Oh! sin Sellar" "Oh! 
there's Sellar." The people, however, soon discovered 
that the new factors were not much better. Several 
leases which were current would not expire until 1819 
and 1820, so that the evictions were necessarily only 
partial from 1814 down to that period. The people 
were reduced to such a state of poverty that even Mr. 
Loch himself, in his " Sutherland Improvements," 
page 76, admits that " Their wretchedness was so great 
that, after pawning everything they possessed to the fisher- 
men on the coast, such as had no cattle were reduced to 
come down from the hills in hundreds for the purpose 
of gathering cockles on the shore. Those who lived 
in the more remote situations of the county were obliged 
to subsist upon broth made of nettles, thickened with a 
little oatmeal. Those who had cattle had recourse to the 
still more wretched expedient of bleeding them, and mix- 
ing the blood with oatmeal, which they afterwards cut 
into slices and fried. Those who had a little money 
came down and slept all night upon the beach, in order to 
watch the boats returning from the fishing, that they 
might be in time to obtain a part of what had been 
caught." He, however, omitted to mention the share 
he and lu's predecessors had taken in reducing the people 
to such misery, and the fact that at this very time he had 
constables stationed at the Little Ferry to prevent the 
starved tenantry from collecting shellfish in the only place 
where they could find them. 

He prevailed upon the people to sign documents con- 
senting to remove at the next Whitsunday term, pro- 
mising at the same time to make good provision for them 
elsewhere. In about a month after, the work of demoli- 
tion and devastation again commenced, and parts of the 
parishes of Golspie, Rogart, Farr, and the whole of Kil- 
flonan were in a blaze. Strong parties with faegots 


and other combustible material were set to work * three 
hundred houses were given ruthlessly to the flames, and 
their occupants pushed out in the open air without food 
or shelter. Macleod, who was present, describes the 
horrible scene as follows : 

" The consternation and confusion were extreme ; 
little or no time was given for the removal of persons 
or property ; the people striving to remove the sick and 
the helpless before the fire should reach them ; next, 
struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The 
cries of the women and children, the roaring of the 
affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling 
dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire, altogether 
presented a scene that completely baffles description it 
required to be seen to be believed. A dense cloud of 
smoke enveloped the whole country by day, and even 
extended far out to sea ; at night an awfully grand but 
terrific scene presented itself all the houses in an ex- 
tensive district in flames at once. I myself ascended a 
height about eleven o'clock in the evening, and counted 
two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the 
owners of which were my relations, and all of whom I 
personally knew, but whose present condition whether 
in or out of the flames I could not tell. The conflagra- 
tion lasted six days, till the whole of the dwellings were 
reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these 
days a boat actually lost her way in the dense smoke as 
she approached the shore, but at night was enabled 
to reach a landing-place by the lurid light of the 

The whole of the inhabitants of Kildonan, numbering 
nearly 2000 souls, except three families, were utterly 
rooted and burnt out, and the whole parish converted 
into a solitary wilderness. The suffering was intense. 
Some lost their reason. Over a hundred souls took 
passage to Caithness in a small sloop, the master 
humanely agreeing to take them in the hold, from which 
he had just unloaded a cargo of quicklime. A head 
storm came on, and they were nine days at sea in the most 
miserable condition men, women, and helpless chil- 


dren huddled up together, with barely any provisions. 
Several died in consequence, and others became invalids 
for the rest of their days. One man, Donald Mackay, 
whose family was suffering from a severe fever, carried 
two of his children a distance of twenty-five miles to this 
vessel. Another old man took shelter in a meal mill, 
where he was kept from starvation by licking the meal 
refuse scattered among the dust on the floor, and pro- 
tected from the rats and other vermin by his faithful 
collie. George Munro, the miller at Farr, who had six 
of his family down with fever, had to remove them in 
that state to a damp kiln, while his home was given to the 
flames. And all this was done in the name of proprietors 
who could not be considered tyrants in the ordinary 
sense of the term. 

General Stewart of Garth, about a year after the 
cruelties perpetrated in Sutherland, writes with regret 
of the unnatural proceedings as " the delusions practised 
(by his subordinates) on a generous and public-spirited 
proprietor, which have been so perseveringly applied, 
that it would appear as if all feeling of former kindness 
towards the native tenantry had ceased to exist. To 
them any uncultivated spot of moorland, however small, 
was considered sufficient for the support of a family ; 
while the most lavish encouragement has been given to 
all the new tenants, on whom, with the erection of build- 
ings, the improvement of lands, roads, bridges, &c., 
upwards of 210,000 had been expended since 1808 
(in fourteen years). With this proof of unprecedented 
liberality, it cannot be sufficiently lamented that an esti- 
mate of the character of these poor people was taken 
from the misrepresentation of interested persons, instead 
of judging from the conduct of the same men when 
brought into the world, where they obtained a name and 
character which have secured the esteem and approbation 
of men high in honour and rank, and, from their talents 
and experience, perfectly capable of judging with correct- 
ness. With such proofs of capability, and with such 
materials for carrying on the improvements and main- 
taining the permanent prosperity of the county, when 


occupied by a hardy, abstemious race, easily led on to a 
full exertion of their faculties by a proper management, 
there cannot be a question but that if , instead of placing 
them, as has been done, in situations bearing too near a 
resemblance to the potato-gardens of Ireland, they had 
been permitted to remain as cultivators of the soil, 
receiving a moderate share of the vast sums lavished on 
their richer successors, such a humane and considerate 
regard to the prosperity of a whole people would un- 
doubtedly have answered every good purpose." He 
then goes on to show that when the valleys and higher 
grounds were let to the sheep-farmers, the whole native 
population was driven to the sea shore, where they 
were crowded on small lots of land to earn subsistence by 
labour and sea-fishing, the latter so little congenial to 
their former habits and experience. " And these one 
or two acre lots are represented as improvements ! " He 
then asks how in a country, without regular employment 
or manufactories, a family is to be supported on one or 
two acres ? The thing was impossible, and the conse- 
quence is that " over the whole of this district, where the 
sea-shore is accessible, the coast is thickly studded with 
thatched cottages, crowded with starving inhabitants," 
while strangers, with capital, usurp the land and 
dispossess the swain. Ancient respectable tenants, who 
passed the greater part of their lives in the enjoyment 
of abundance, and in the exercise of hospitality and 
charity, possessing stocks of ten, twenty, and thirty 
breeding cows, with the usual proportion of other stock, 
are now pining on one or two acres of bad land, with one 
or two starved cows ; and for this accommodation a 
calculation is made, that they must support their families, 
and pay the rents of their lots, not from the produce, 
but from the sea. When the herring fishery succeeds, 
they generally satisfy the landlords, whatever privations 
they may suffer ; but when the fishing fails, they fall in 
arrears and are sequestrated and their stocks sold to pay 
the rents, their lots given to others, and they and their 
families turned adrift on the world ; but in these trying 
circumstances, he concludes, " we cannot sufficiently 


admire their meek and patient spirit, supported by the 
powerful influence of moral and religious principle." 

The beautiful Strathnaver, containing a population 
equal to Kildonan, had been cleared in the same heartless 

In 1828, Donald Macleod, after a considerable absence, 
returned to his native Kildonan, where he attended divine 
service in the parish church, which he found attended by a 
congregation consisting of eight shepherds and their dogs 
numbering between twenty and thirty the minister, 
and three members of his family. Macleod came in too 
late for the first psalm, but at the conclusion of the service 
the fine old tune Bangor was given out, " when the four- 
footed hearers became excited, got up on the seats, and 
raised a most infernal chorus of howling. Their masters 
attacked them with their crooks, which only made 
matters worse j the yelping and howling continued to 
the end of the service." And Donald Macleod retired 
to contemplate the painful and shameful scene, and con- 
trast it with what he had previously experienced as a 
member, for many years, of the large and devout congre- 
gation that worshipped formerly in the parish church of 
his native valley. 

The Parish Church of Farr was no longer in existence ; 
the fine population of Strathnaver was rooted and burnt 
out during the general conflagration, and presented a 
similar aspect to his own native parish. The church, no 
longer found necessary, was razed to the ground, and its 
timbers conveyed to construct one of the Sutherland 
" improvements " the Inn at Altnaharra, while the 
minister's house was converted into a dwelling for a fox- 
hunter. A woman, well-known in the parish, travelling 
through the desolated Strath next year after the evictions, 
was asked on her return home for her news, when she 
replied " O, chan eil ach sgiala bronach ! sgiala 
bronach ! " " Oh, only sad news, sad news ! I have 
seen the timber of our well attended kirk covering the 
inn at Altnaharra ; I have seen the kirk-yard where our 
friends are mouldering filled with tarry sheep, and Mr. 
Sage's study turned into a kennel for Robert Gunn's dogs, 


and I have seen a crow's nest in James Gordon's chimney 
head ; " after which she fell into a paroxysm of grief. 


I remained for about a year in the capacity of tutor in 
the family of Mr. Robert MacKid, Sheriff-Substitute of 
Sutherland, who lived at Kirkton, in the parish of Golspie. 
I shall briefly sum up what I remember of this period. 

It was a very short time previous to my residence in 
Mr. MacKid' s family that the first " Sutherland Clear- 
ance " took place. This consisted in the ejection from 
their minutely- divided farms of several hundreds of the 
Sutherlandshire aborigines, who had from time im- 
memorial been in possession of their mountain tenements. 
This sweeping desolation extended over many parishes, 
but it fell most heavily on the parish of Kildonan. It 
was the device of one William Young, a successful corn- 
dealer and land-improver. He rose from indigence, but 
was naturally a man of taste, of an ingenious turn of 
mind, and a shrewd calculator. After realising some 
hundreds of pounds by corn-dealing, he purchased from 
Sir Archibald Dunbar of Thundertown a small and value- 
less property in Morayshire called Inverugie. It lay 
upon the sea-shore, and, like many properties of more 
ancient date, it had been completely covered with sea- 
sand which had drifted upon its surface. For this small 
and worthless spot he paid a correspondingly small 
price about 700 but, tasking his native and vigorous 
genius for improvement, he set himself at once to better 
his bargain. Making use of a plough of peculiar con- 
struction, he turned the sand down and the rich old soil 
up, and thus made it one of the most productive pro- 
perties in the county. This, with other necessary im- 
provements, however, involved him in debt \ but, just as 
it became a question with him how to pay it, his praise 
in the north as a scientific improver of land reached 
the ears of the Stafford family, who, in connection with 
their immense wealth, were racked with the anxiety 


to improve their Highland estate. As William Young 
had been so successful on the estate of Inverugie they 
thought he could not but be equally so on the Sutherland 
estate. Young introduced the depopulating system into 
Sutherland.* This system, during his tenure of office as 
commissioner on the Sutherland property, was just at its 
commencement. It was first brought to bear on the 
parish of Kildonan. The whole north and south sides 
of the Strath, from Kildonan to Caen on the left bank of 
the river, and from Dalcharn to Marrel on the right 
bank, were, at one fell sweep, cleared of their inhabitants. 
The measures for their ejectment had been taken with 
such promptness, and were so suddenly and brutally 
carried out, as to excite a tumult among the people. 
Young had as his associate in the factorship a man of 
the name of Sellar, who acted in the subordinate capacity 
of legal agent and accountant on the estate, and who, 
by his unprincipled recklessness in conducting the process 
of ejectment, added fuel to the flame. It was said that 
the people rose almost en masse, that the constables 
and officials were resisted and their lives threatened, and 
the combination among the peasantry was represented 
as assuming at last so alarming an aspect that the Sheriff- 
Depute of the county was under the necessity of calling 
in the military to quell the riot. A detachment of soldiers 
was accordingly sent from Fort-George, a powder maga- 
zine was erected at Dornoch, and every preparation made 
as for the commencement of a civil war. But the chief 
magistrate of the county, shrewdly suspecting the origin 
of these reports, ordered back the militar}', came himself 
alone among the people, and instituted a cool and im- 
partial enquiry into their proceedings. The result was 
that the formidable riot, which was reported to have for 
its objects the murder of Young and Sellar, the expulsion 
of the store-farmers, and the burning of Dunrobin Castle, 

*" Clearances " had, however, been effected in some parts of 
Sutherland previous to this period, although to a smaller 
extent. From along the banks of the river Oykell, for 
instance, many families were evicted, in the year 1780. 
(Statement by the Rev. Dr. Aird, of Creich). 


amounted after all only to this, that a certain number of 
the people had congregated in different places and had 
given vent to their outraged feelings and sense of oppres- 
sion in rash and unguarded terms. It could not be 
proved that a single act of violence was committed. Sellar 
laboured hard to involve my father and mother in the 
criminality of these proceedings, but he utterly failed. 
The peasantry, as fine as any in the world, were treated 
by the owners of the soil as " good for nothing but to be 
cast out and trodden under feet of men," while the tract 
of country thus depopulated was divided into two large 
sheep farms, one of which was given in lease to William 
Cluness of Cracaig, and the other to a Mr. Reid from 

The reckless lordly proprietors had resolved upon 
the expulsion of their long-standing and much- attached 
tenantry from their widely-extended estates, and the 
Sutherland Clearance of 1819 was not only the climax 
of their system of oppression for many years before, but 
the extinction of the last remnant of the ancient Highland 
peasantry in the north. As violent tempests send out 
before them many a deep and sullen roar, so did the ad- 
vancing storm give notice of its approach by various 
single acts of oppression. I can yet recall to memory 
the deep and thrilling sensation which I experienced, 
as I sat at the fireside in my rude, little parlour at 
Achness, when the tidings of the meditated removal of 
my poor flock first reached me from headquarters. It 
might be about the beginning of October, 1818. A 
tenant from the middle of the Strath had been to Rhives, 
the residence of Mr. Young, the commissioner, paying his 
rent. He was informed, and authorised to tell his 
neighbours, that the rent for the half-year, ending in May, 
1819, would not be demanded, as it was determined to 
lay the districts of Strathnaver and Upper Kildonan 
under sheep. This intelligence when first announced 
was indignantly discredited by the people. Notwith- 
standing their knowledge of former clearances they 
clung to the hope that the " Ban-mhorair Chataibh " 
(the Duchess of Sutherland) would not give her con- 


sent to the warning as issued by her subordinates, 
and thus deprive herself of her people, as truly a 
part of her noble inheritance as were her broad acres. 
But the course of a few weeks soon undeceived them. 
Summonses of ejectment were issued and despatched all 
over the district. These must have amounted to upwards 
of a thousand, as the population of the Mission alone 
was 1600 souls, and many more than those of the Mission 
were ejected. The summonses were distributed with the 
utmost preciseness. They were handed in at every 
house and hovel alike, be the occupiers of them who or 
what they might minister, catechist, or elder, tenant, 
or sub- tenant, out-servant, or cottar all were made 
to feel the irresponsible power of the proprietor. The 
enormous amount of citations might also be accounted 
for by the fact that Mr. Peter Sellar had a threefold 
personal interest in the whole matter. He was, in the 
first place, factor on the Sutherland estate at the time ; 
then, he was law agent for the proprietors ; and, lastly, 
the lessee or tacksman of more than a third of the county 
to be cleared of its inhabitants. It may easily be con- 
ceived how such a three-plied cord of worldly interest 
would bind him over to greater rigour, and even atrocity, 
in executing the orders of his superiors on the wretched 
people among whom he was thus let loose like a beast of 
prey. But the effects produced by these decided meas- 
ures I now distinctly remember. Having myself, in 
common with the rest of my people, received one of these 
notices, I resolved that, at the ensuing term of Martin- 
mas, I would remove from Achness, and go once more 
permanently to reside under my father's roof, although I 
would at the same time continue the punctual discharge 
of my pastoral duties among the people till they also 
should be removed. I could not but regard the summon- 
ing of the minister as tantamount to the putting down of 
the ministration of the Word and ordinances of religion 
in that part of the country. And, indeed, it is a fact, that, 
although this desolate district is still occupied by shep- 
herds, no provision has, since that time, been made 
for their spiritual wants. I left Achness, therefore, about 


the middle of November, 1818, sold my cow at the Ardgay 
market, and got my furniture conveyed to Kildonan 
by my father's horses and my own. The people received 
the legal warning to leave for ever the homes of their 
fathers with a sort of stupor that apparent indifference 
which is often the external aspect of intense feeling. As 
they began, however, to awaken from the stunning 
effects of this first intimation, their feelings found vent, 
and I was much struck with the different ways in which 
they expressed their sentiments. The truly pious 
acknowledged the mighty hand of God in the matter. 
In their prayers and religious conferences not a solitary 
expression could be heard indicative of anger or vin- 
dictiveness, but in the sight of God they humbled them- 
selves> and received the chastisement at His hand. 
Those, however, who were strangers to such exalted and 
ennobling impressions of the Gospel breathed deep and 
muttered curses on the heads of the persons who sub- 
jected them to such treatment. The more reckless por- 
tion of them fully realised the character of the 
impenitent in all ages, and indulged in the most culpable 
excesses, even while this divine punishment was still 
suspended over them. These last, however, were very 
few in number not more than a dozen. To my poor 
and defenceless flock the dark hour of trial came at last 
in right earnest. It was in the month of April, and about 
the middle of it, that they were all man, woman, and 
child from the heights of Farr to the mouth of the Naver, 
on one day, to quit their tenements and go many of 
them knew not whither. For a few, some miserable 
patches of ground along the shores were doled out as 
lots, without aught in the shape of the poorest hut to 
shelter them. Upon these lots it was intended that they 
should build houses at their own expense, and cultivate 
the ground, at the same time occupying themselves as 
fishermen, although the great majority of them had never 
set foot on a boat in their lives. Thither, therefore, they 
were driven at a week's warning. As for the rest most 
of them knew not whither to go, unless their neighbours 
on the shore provided them with a temporary shelter ; 


for, on the day of their removal, they would not be al- 
lowed to remain, even on the bleakest moor, and in the 
open air, for a distance of twenty miles around. 

On the Sabbath, a fortnight previous to the fated day, 
I preached my valedictory sermon in Achness, and the 
Sabbath thereafter at Ach-na-h-uaigh. Both occasions 
were felt by my self and by the people from the oldest to the 
youngest, to be among the bitterest and most overwhelm- 
ing experiences of our lives. In Strathnaver we assem- 
bled, for the last time, at the place of I^angdale, where I 
had frequently preached before, on a beautiful green 
sward overhung by Robert Gordon's antique, romantic 
little cottage on an eminence close beside us. The still- 
flowing waters of the Naver swept past us a few yards to 
the eastward. The Sabbath morning was unusually 
fine, and mountain, hill, and dale, water and woodland, 
among which we had so long dwelt, and with which all 
our associations of " home " and " native land " were 
so fondly linked, appeared to unite their attractions 
to bid us farewell. My preparations for the pulpit had 
always cost me much anxiety, but in view of this sore 
scene of parting, they caused me pain almost beyond 
endurance. I selected a text which had a pointed 
reference to the peculiarity of our circumstances, but my 
difficulty was how to restrain my feelings till I should 
illustrate and enforce the great truths which it involved 
with reference to eternity. The service began. The 
very aspect of the congregation was of itself a sermon, 
and a most impressive one. Old Achoul sat right op- 
posite to me. As my eye fell upon his venerable counte- 
nance, bearing the impress of eighty-seven winters, I was 
deeply affected, and could scarcely articulate the psalm. 
I preached and the people listened, but every sentence 
uttered and heard was in opposition to the tide of our 
natural feelings, which, setting in against us, mounted 
at every step of our progress higher and higher. At last 
all restraints were compelled to give way. The preacher 
ceased to speak, the people to listen. All lifted up their 
voices, and wept, mingling their tears together. It was 
indeed the place of parting, and the hour. The greater 


number parted never again to behold each other in the 
land of the living. My adieu to the people of Ach-na- 
h-uaighe was scarcely less affecting, although somewhat 
alleviated by the consideration that I had the prospect 
of ministering still to those among them who had leases 
of their farms, and whom Mr. Sellar, the factor and law 
agent, had no power to remove. 

The middle of the week brought on the day of the 
Strathnaver Clearance (1819). It was a Tuesday. At 
an early hour of that day Mr. Sellar, accompanied by the 
Fiscal, and escorted by a strong body of constables, 
sheriff-officers and others, commenced work at Grum- 
more, the first inhabited township to the west of the 
Achness district. Their plan of operations was to clear 
the cottages of their inmates, giving them about half-an- 
hour to pack up and carry off their furniture, and then 
set the cottages on fire. To this plan they ruthlessly 
adhered, without the slightest regard to any obstacle 
that might arise while carrying it into execution. 

At Grumbeg lived a soldier's widow, Henny Munro. 
She had followed her husband in all his campaigns, 
marches, and battles, in Sicily and in Spain. Whether 
his death was on the field of battle, or the result of fever 
or fatigue, I forget ; but his faithful helpmeet attended 
him to his last hour, and, when his spirit fled, closed his 
eyes, and followed his remains to their last resting-place. 
After his death she returned to Grumbeg, the place of 
her nativity, and, as she was utterly destitute of any 
means of support, she was affectionately received by her 
friends, who built her a small cottage and gave her a cow 
and grass for it. The din of arms, orders, and counter- 
orders from headquarters, marchings and counter- 
marchings and pitched battles, retreats and advances, 
were the leading and nearly unceasing subjects of her 
winter evening conversations. She was a joyous, cheery 
old creature ; so inoffensive, moreover, and so contented, 
and brimful of good-will that all who got acquainted with 
old Henny Munro could only desire to do her a good turn, 
were it merely for the warm and hearty expressions of 
gratitude with which it was received. Surely the factor 


and his followers did not personally know old Henny, or 
they could not have treated her as they did. After the 
cottages at Grummore were emptied of their inmates, and 
roofs and rafters had been lighted up into one red blaze, 
Mr. Sellar and his iron-hearted attendants approached 
the residence of the soldier's widow. Henny stood up 
to plead for her furniture the coarsest and most valueless 
that well could be, but still her earthly all. She first 
asked that, as her neighbours were so occupied with their 
own furniture, hers might be allowed to remain till 
they should be free to remove it for her. This request 
was curtly refused. She then besought them to allow a 
shepherd who was present and offered his services for 
that purpose, to remove the furniture to his own resi- 
dence on the opposite shore of the loch, to remain there 
till she could carry it away. This also was refused, and 
she was told, with an oath, that if she did not take her 
trumpery off within half-an-hour it would be burned. 
The poor widow had only to task the remains of her bodily 
strength, and address herself to the work of dragging 
her chests, beds, presses, and stools out at the door, and 
placing them at the gable of her cottage. No sooner was 
her task accomplished than the torch was applied, the 
widow's hut, built of very combustible material, speedily 
ignited, and there rose up rapidly, first a dense cloud of 
smoke, and soon thereafter a bright red flame. The 
wind unfortunately blew in the direction of the furniture, 
and the flame, lighting upon it, speedily reduced it to 

In their progress down the Strath, Ceann-na-coille 
was the next township reached by the fire-raising evict ors. 
An aged widow lived there who, by infirmity, had been 
reduced to such a state of bodily weakness that she could 
neither walk nor lie in bed. She could only, night and 
day, sit in her chair ; and having been confined for many 
years in that posture, her limbs had become so stiff that 
any attempt to move her was attended with acute pain. 
She was the mother-in-law of Samuel Matheson, and had, 
with her family, been removed by Mr. Sellar from 
Rhimisdale some time before. His treatment of her 


and others on that occasion had brought Mr. Sellar 
into trouble, but now, in the Providence of God, she 
was once more in his power. " Bean Raomasdail," or 
" the good wife of Rhimisdale," as she was called, was 
much revered. In her house I have held diets of cate- 
chising and meetings for prayer, and been signally re- 
freshed by her Christian converse. When the evicting 
party commenced their operations in her township, the 
aged widow's house was among the very first that was 
to be consigned to the flames. Her family and neighbours 
represented the widow's strong claims on their com- 
passion, and the imminent danger to her life of removing 
her to such a distance as the lower end of the Strath, at 
least ten miles off, without suitable means of conveyance. 
They implored that she might be allowed to remain for 
only two days till a conveyance could be provided for 
her. They were told that they should have thought on 
that before, and that she must immediately be removed 
by her friends, or the constables would be ordered to do 
it. The good wife of Rhimisdale was, therefore, raised 
by her weeping family, from her chair and laid on a blan- 
ket, the corners of which were held up by four of the 
strongest youths in the place. All this she bore with 
meekness, and while the eyes of her attendants were 
streaming with tears, her pale and gentle countenance 
was suffused with a smile. The change of posture and the 
rapid motion of the bearers, however, awakened the most 
intense pain, and her cries never ceased till within a 
few miles of her destination, when she fell asleep. A burn- 
ing fever supervened, of which she died a few months 

During these proceedings, I was resident at my father's 
house, but I had occasion on the week immediately 
ensuing to visit the manse of Tongue. On my way 
thither, I passed through the scene of the campaign of 
burning. The spectacle presented was hideous and 
ghastly ! The banks of the lake and the river, formerly 
studded with cottages, now met the eye as a scene of 
desolation. Of all the houses, the thatched roofs were 
gone, but the walls, built of alternate layers of turf and 


stone, remained. The flames of the preceding week 
still slumbered in their ruins, and sent up into the air 
spiral columns of smoke ; whilst here a gable, and there a 
long side-wall, undermined by the fire burning within 
them, might be seen tumbling to the ground, from which a 
cloud of smoke, and then a dusky flame, slowly sprang 
up. The sooty rafters of the cottages, as they were being 
consumed, filled the air with a heavy and most offensive 
odour. In short, nothing could more vividly represent 
the horrors of grinding oppression, and the extent to 
which one man, dressed up in a " little brief authority," 
will exercise that power, without feeling or restraint, to 
the injury of his fellow-creatures. 


On the part of those -who instituted similar improve- 
ments, in which so few of the people were to have a share, 
conciliatory measures, and a degree of tenderness, beyond 
what would have been shown to strangers, were to have 
been expected towards the hereditary supporters of their 
families. It was, however, unfortunately the natural 
consequences of the measures which were adopted, that 
few men of liberal feelings could be induced to undertake 
their execution. The respectable gentlemen, who, in 
so many cases, had formerly been entrusted with the 
management of Highland property, resigned, and their 
places were supplied by persons cast in a coarser mould, 
and, generally, strangers to the country, who, detesting 
the people, and ignorant of their character, capability, 
and language, quickly surmounted every obstacle, and 
hurried on the change, without reflecting on the distress 
of which it might be productive, or allowing the kindlier 
feelings of landlords to operate in favour of their ancient 
tenantry. To attempt a new system, and become 
acceptable tenants, required a little time and a little 

*" Sketches of the Highlanders." First edition. 


indulgence, two things which it was resolved should not 
be conceded them : they were immediately removed from 
the fertile and cultivated farms ] some left the country, 
and others were offered limited portions of land on un- 
cultivated moors, on which they were to form a settle- 
ment ; and thus, while particular districts have been 
desolated, the gross numerical population has, in some 
manner, been preserved. Many judicious men, however, 
doubt the policy of these measures, and dread their con- 
sequences on the condition and habits of the people. 
The following account of their situation is from the re- 
spectable and intelligent clergyman of an extensive 
parish in the county : 

" When the valleys and higher grounds were let to the 
shepherds, the whole population was drawn down to 
the sea-shore, where they were crowded on small lots of 
land, to earn their subsistence by labour (where all are 
labourers and few employers) and by sea-fishing, the latter 
so little congenial to their former habits. This cutting 
down farms into lots was found so profitable, that over 
the whole of this district, the sea-coast, where the shore 
is accessible, is thickly studded with wretched cottages, 
crowded with starving inhabitants. Ancient respectable 
tenants, who passed the greater part of life in the enjoy- 
ment of abundance, and in the exercise of hospitality 
and charity, possessing stocks of ten, twenty, and thirty 
breeding cows, with the usual proportion of other stock, 
are now pining on one or two acres of bad land, with one 
or two starved cows, and, for this accommodation a 
calculation is made, that they must support their families 
and pay the rent of their lots, which the land cannot 
afford. When the herring fishery (the only fishery 
prosecuted on this coast) succeeds, they generally satisfy 
the landlords, whatever privations they may suffer, 
but when the fishing fails, they fall in arrears, and are 
sequestrated, and their stock sold to pay the rents, their 
lots given to others, and they and their families turned 
adrift on the world. The herring fishery, always pre- 
carious, has, for a succession of years, been very defec- 
tive, and this class of people are reduced to extreme 


misery. At first, some of them possessed capital, from 
converting their farm stock into cash, but this has been 
long exhausted. It is distressing to view the general 
poverty of this class of people, aggravated by their 
having once enjoyed abundance and independence \ 
and we cannot sufficiently admire their meek and patient 
spirit, supported by the powerful influence of religious 
and moral principle. There are still a few small tenants 
on the old system, occupying the same farm jointly, but 
they are falling fast to decay, and sinking into the new 
class of cottars." 

This mode of sub-dividing small portions of inferior 
land is bad enough certainly, and to propose the 
establishment of villages, in a pastoral country, for the 
benefit of men who can neither betake themselves to the 
cultivation of the land nor to commerce for earning the 
means of subsistence, is doubtless a refinement in policy 
solely to be ascribed to the enlightened and enlarged 
views peculiar to the new system. But, leaving out of 
view the consideration that, from the prevalence of turn- 
ing corn lands into pasture, the demand for labour is 
diminished, while the number of labourers is increased, 
it can scarcely be expected that a man who had once been 
in the condition of a farmer, possessed of land, and of 
considerable property in cattle, horses, sheep, and money, 
often employing servants himself, conscious of his in- 
dependence, and proud of his ability to assist others, 
should, without the most poignant feelings, descend to 
the rank of a hired labourer, even where labour and pay- 
ment can be obtained, more especially if he must serve 
on the farms or in the country where he formerly com- 
manded as a master. 

It is not easy for those who live in a country like 
England, where so many of the lower orders have nothing 
but what they acquire by the labour of the passing day, 
and possess no permanent property or share in the agri- 
cultural produce of the soil, to appreciate the nature of 
the spirit of independence which is generated in coun- 
tries where the free cultivators of the soil constitute the 
major part of the population. It can scarcely be 


imagined how proudly a man feels, however small his 
property may be, when he has a spot of arable land and 
pasture, stocked with corn, horses, and cows, a species 
of property which, more than any other, binds him, by 
ties of interest and attachment, to the spot with which he 
is connected. He considers himself an independent per- 
son, placed in a station in society far above the day 
labourer, who has no stake in the permanency of existing 
circumstances, beyond the prospect of daily employment * 
his independence being founded on permanent property, 
he has an interest in the welfare of the state, by support- 
ing which he renders his own property more secure, and, 
although the value of the property may not be great, it 
is every day in his view * his cattle and horses feed around 
him ; his grass and corn he sees growing and ripening ; 
his property is visible to all observers, which is calculated 
to raise the owner in general consideration ; and when a 
passing friend or neighbour praises his thriving crops 
and his cattle, his heart swells with pleasure, and he 
exerts himself to support and to preserve that govern- 
ment and those laws which render it secure. Such is 
the case in many parts of the world; such was formerly 
the case in Scotland, and is still in many parts of the 
Highlands. Those who wish to see only the two castes 
of capitalists and day-labourers, may smile at this union 
of independence and poverty. But, that the opposite 
system is daily quenching the independent spirit of the 
Highlanders, is an undoubted fact, and gives additional 
strength to the arguments of those who object to the re- 
duction of the agricultural population, and regret their 
removal to the great towns, and to the villages in pre- 
paration in some parts of the country. 

It is painful to dwell on this subject, but as information 
communicated by men of honour, judgment, and perfect 
veracity, descriptive of what they daily witness, affords 
the best means of forming a correct judgment, and as 
these gentlemen, from their situations in life, have no 
immediate interest in the determination of the question, 
beyond what is dictated by humanity and a love of truth, 
their authority may be considered as undoubted. 


The following extract of a letter from a friend, as well as 
the extract already quoted, is of this description. Speak- 
ing of the settlers on the new allotments, he says : 

" I scarcely need tell you that these wretched people 
exhibit every symptom of the most abject poverty, and 
the most helpless distress. Their miserable lots in the 
moors, notwithstanding their utmost labour and strictest 
economy, have not yielded them a sufficient crop for the 
support of their families for three months. The little 
money they were able to derive from the sale of their 
stock has, therefore, been expended in the purchase of 
necessaries, and is now wholly exhausted. Though they 
have now, therefore, overcome all their scruples about 
leaving their native land, and possess the most ardent 
desire to emigrate, in order to avoid more intolerable evils 
of starvation, and have been much encouraged by the 
favourable accounts they have received from their 
countrymen already in America, they cannot possibly 
pay the expense of transporting themselves and their 
families thither." 

It has been said that an old Highlander warned his 
countrymen " to take care of themselves, for the law 
had reached Ross-shire." When his fears were excited 
by vague apprehensions of change, he could not well 
anticipate that the introduction of civil order, and the 
extension of legal authority, which in an enlightened 
age tend to advance the prosperity as well as promote the 
security of a nation, should have been to his countrymen 
either the signals of banishment from their native coun- 
try, or the means of lowering the condition of those who 
were permitted to remain. -With more reason it might 
have been expected that the principles of an enlightened 
age would have gradually introduced beneficial changes 
among the ancient race ; that they would have softened 
down the harsher features of their character, and pre- 
pared them for habits better suited to the cultivation 
of the soil, than the indolent freedom of a pastoral life. 
Instead of this, the new system, whatever may be its 
intrinsic merits or defects, has, in too many cases, been 
carried into execution in a manner which has excited 


the strongest and most indignant sensations in the 
breasts of those who do not overlook the present incon- 
venience and distress of the many, in the eager pursuit 
of a prospective advantage to the few. The conse- 
quences which have resulted, and the contrast between 
the present and past condition of the people, and between 
their present and past disposition and feelings towards 
their superiors, show, in the most striking light, the 
impolicy of attempting, with such unnatural rapidity, 
innovations which it would require an age, instead of a 
few years, to accomplish in a salutary manner, and the 
impossibility of effecting them without inflicting great 
misery, endangering morals, and undermining loyalty 
to the king, and respect for constituted authority. 

A love of change, proceeding from the actual possession 
of wealth, or from the desire of acquiring it, disturbs, by 
an ill-directed influence, the gradual and effectual pro- 
gress of those improvements which, instead of benefiting 
the man of capital alone, should equally distribute their 
advantages to all. In the prosecution of recent changes 
in the north, it would appear that the original inhabi- 
tants were never thought of, nor included in the system 
which was to be productive of such wealth to the landlord, 
the man of capital, and the country at large, and that 
no native could be intrusted with, or, perhaps, none was 
found hardy enough to act a part in the execution of 
plans which commenced with the ejectment of their 
unfortunate friends and neighbours. Strangers were, 
therefore, called in, and whole glens cleared of their 
inhabitants, who, in some instances, resisted these 
mandates (although legally executed), in the hope of 
preserving to their families their ancient homes, to which 
all were enthusiastically attached. These people, blame- 
less in every respect, save their poverty and ignorance 
of modern agriculture, could not believe that such harsh 
measures proceeded from their honoured superiors, who 
had hitherto been kind, and to whom they themselves 
had ever been attached and faithful. The whole was 
attributed to the acting agents, and to them, therefore, 
their indignation was principally directed ; and, in some 


instances, their resistance was so obstinate, that it became 
necessary to enforce the orders " vi et armis," and to have 
recourse to a mode of ejectment, happily long obsolete, 
by setting their houses on fire. This last species of legal 
proceeding was so peculiarly conclusive and forcible that 
even the stubborn Highlanders, with all their attach- 
ment to the homes of their fathers, were compelled to 

In the first instances of this mode of removing re- 
fractory tenants, a small compensation (six shillings), 
in two separate sums, was allowed for the houses de- 
stroyed. Some of the ejected tenants were also allowed 
small allotments of land, on which they were to build 
houses at their own expense, no assistance being given 
for that purpose. Perhaps it was owing to this that they 
were the more reluctant to remove till they had built 
houses on their new stations. The compensations al- 
lowed in the more recent removals are stated to have been 
more liberal \ and the improvements which have 
succeeded those summary ejectments of the ancient 
inhabitants are highly eulogised both in pamphlets and 

Some people may, however, be inclined to doubt the 
advantages of improvements which called for such 
frequent apologies ; for, if more lenient measures had 
been pursued, vindication would have, perhaps, been 
unnecessary, and the trial of one of the acting agents 
might have been avoided. 

This trial was brought forward at the instance of the 
Lord Advocate, in consequence of the loud cry of in- 
dignation raised in the country against proceedings 
characterised by the sheriff of the county as " conduct 
which has seldom disgraced any country." But the 
trial ended (as was expected by every person who under- 
stood the circumstances) in the acquittal of the acting 
agent, the verdict of the jury proceeding on the principle 
that he acted under legal authority. This acquittal, 
however, did by no means diminish the general feeling of 
culpability ; it only transferred the offence from the agent 
to a quarter too high and too distant to be directly 


affected by public indignation, if, indeed, there be any 
station so elevated, or so distant, that public indignation, 
justly excited, will not, sooner or later, reach, so as to 
touch the feelings, however obtuse, of the transgressor 
of that law of humanity written on every upright mind, 
and deeply engraved on every kind and generous heart. 

It must, however, be a matter of deep regret, that such 
a line of proceeding was pursued with regard to these 
brave, unfortunate, and well-principled people, as excited 
a sensation of horror, and a conviction of culpability, 
so powerful as only to be removed by an appeal to a 
criminal court. It is no less to be deplored that any 
conduct sanctioned by authority, even although pro- 
ductive of ultimate advantage (and how it can produce 
any advantage beyond what might have been obtained 
by pursuing a scheme of conciliation and encouragement 
is a very questionable point), should have, in the first 
instance, inflicted such general misery. More humane 
measures would undoubtedly have answered every 
good purpose ; and had such a course been pursued, 
as an enlightened humanity would have suggested, in- 
stead of depopulated glens and starving peasantry, 
alienated from their superiors, and, in the exacerbation 
of their feelings, too ready to imbibe opinions hostile to 
the best interests of their country, we should still have 
seen a high-spirited and loyal people, ready, at the nod of 
their respected chiefs, to embody themselves into regi- 
ments, with the same zeal as in former times \ and when 
enrolled among the defenders of their country, to exhibit 
a conduct honourable to that country and to their 
profession. Such is the acknowledged character of the 
men of these districts as soldiers, when called forth in the 
service of their country, although they be now described 
as irregular in their habits, and a burthen on the lands 
which gave them birth, and on which their forefathers 
maintained the honour, and promoted the wealth and 
prosperity of the ancestors of those who now reject them. 

But is it conceivable that the people at home should be 
so degraded, while their brothers and sons who become 
soldiers maintain an honourable character ? The people 


ought not to be reproached with incapacity or immorality 
without better evidence than that of their prejudiced 
and unfeeling calumniators. If it be so, however, and 
if this virtuous and honourable race, which has contri- 
buted to raise and uphold the character of the British 
peasantry in the eyes of all Europe, are thus fallen, and so 
suddenly fallen, how great and powerful must be the 
cause, and how heavy the responsibility of its authors ? 
But if at home they are thus low in character, how un- 
paralleled must be the improvement which is produced by 
difference of profession, as for example, when they 
become soldiers, and associate in barracks with troops 
of all characters, or in quarters, or billets, with the lowest 
of the people, instead of mingling with such society as 
they left in their native homes ? Why should these 
Highlanders be at home so degenerate as they are re- 
presented, and as in recent instances they would actually 
appear to be ? And why, when they mount the cockade, 
are they found to be so virtuous and regular, that one 
thousand men of Sutherland have been embodied four 
and five years together, at different and distant periods, 
from 1759 to 1763, from 1779 to 1783, and from 1793 to 
1798, without an instance of military punishment ? 
These men performed all the duties of soldiers to the 
perfect satisfaction of their commanders, and continued 
so unexceptionable in their conduct down to the latest 
period, when embodied into the 93rd regiment, that, 
according to the words of a distinguished general officer, 
" Although the youngest regiment in the service, they 
might form an example to all : " and on general parades 
for punishment, the Sutherland Highlanders have been 
ordered to their quarters, as " examples of this kind were 
not necessary for such honourable soldiers." 

General Stewart adds the following in the third edition 
of his Sketches, published in 1825 : 

The great changes which have taken place in the above 
parishes of Sutherland, and some others, have excited 
a warm and general interest. While the liberal expendi- 
ture of capital was applauded by all, many intelligent 
persons lamented that its application was so much in one 



direction ,' that the ancient tenantry were to have no 
share in this expenditure ; and that so small a portion 
was allotted for the future settlement of the numerous 
population who had been removed from their farms, and 
were placed in situations so new, and in many respects 
so unsuitable, certain that, in the first instance, great 
distress, disaffection, and hostility towards the land- 
lords and government, with a d minution of that spirit 
of independence, and those proper principles which had 
hitherto distinguished them, would be the inevitable 
result. So sudden and universal a change of station, 
habits, and circumstances, and their being reduced from 
the state of independent tenants to that of cottagers and 
day-labourers, could not fail of arresting the notice of the 

Anxious to obtain the best information on this interest- 
ing subject, I early made the most minute enquiry, care- 
ful, at the same time, to form no opinion on intelligence 
communicated by the people of the district, or by persons 
connected with them, and who would naturally be in- 
terested in, and prejudiced against, or in favour of those 
changes. I was the more desirous for the best informa- 
tion as the statements published with regard to the 
character, capability, and principles of the people, ex- 
hibited a perfect contrast to my own personal experience 
and knowledge of the admirable character and exemplary 
conduct of that portion of them that had left their native 
country ; and I believe it improbable, nay impossible, 
that the sons of worthless parents, without religious or 
moral principle as they have been described could 
conduct themselves in such an honourable manner as to 
be held up as an example to the British army. But, 
indeed, as to information, so much publicity had been 
given by various statements explanatory of, and in vindi- 
cation of these proceedings, that little more was neces- 
sary, beyond what these publications afforded, to show 
the nature of the plans, and the manner in which they 
were carried into execution. 

Forming my opinions, therefore, from those statements, 
and from information communicated by persons not im- 


mediately connected with that part of the country, I 
drew the conclusions which appeared in the former edi- 
tions of these Sketches. But, with a strong desire to be 
correct and well informed in all I state, and with an 
intention of correcting myself, in this edition, should I 
find that I had been misinformed, or had taken up mis- 
taken views of the subject, in the different statements 
I had produced, I embraced the first spare time I could 
command, and in autumn, 1823, I travelled over the 
" improved " districts, and a large portion of those parts 
which had been depopulated and laid out in extensive 
pastoral farms, as well as the stations in which the people 
are placed. After as strict an examination as circum- 
stances permitted, and a careful inquiry among those 
who, from their knowledge and judgment were enabled 
to form the best opinions, I do not find that I have one 
statement to alter, or one opinion to correct ; though I 
am fully aware that many hold very different opinions. 
But however much I may differ in some points, there 
is one in which I warmly and cordially join ; and that 
is, in expressing my high satisfaction and admiration at 
the liberality displayed in the immense sums expended on 
buildings, in enclosing, clearing, and draining land, in 
forming roads and communications, and introducing the 
most improved agricultural implements. In all these, 
the generous distribution of such exemplary encourage- 
ment stands unparalleled and alone. Equally remark- 
able is the great abatement of rents given to the tenants of 
capital abatements which it was not to be expected 
they would ask, considering the preference and encour- 
agement given them, and the promises they had held out 
of great and unprecedented revenue, from their skill and 
exertions. But these promises seem to have been early 
forgotten ; the tenants of capital were the first to call for 
relief ; and so great and generous has this relief been that 
the rents are reduced so low as to be almost on a level 
with what they were when the great changes commenced. 
Thus while upwards of 210,000 have been expended 
on improvements, no return is to be looked for from this 
vast expenditure ; and in the failure of their promised 


rents, the tenants have sufficiently proved the unstable 
and fallacious nature of the system which they, with so 
much plausibility and perseverance, got established by 
delusions, practised on a high-minded, honourable 
individual, not aware of the evils produced by so universal 
a movement of a whole people. Every friend to a brave 
and valuable race must rejoice that these evils are in 
progress of alleviation by a return of that kindness and 
protection which had formerly been so conspicuous 
towards that race of tenantry, and which could never 
have been interrupted had it not been for those delusions 
to which I have more than once alluded, and which 
have been prosecuted, within the last twenty years, in 
many parts of the Highlands, with a degree of assiduity 
and antipathy to the unfortunate inhabitants altogether 


So much has been already said about these disastrous 
Sutherland evictions that we greatly fear the reader 
is sickened with the horrid narrative, but as it is 
intended to make the present record of these atrocious 
proceedings, not only in Sutherland but throughout the 
whole Highlands, as complete as it is now possible to 
make it, we shall yet place before the reader at consider- 
able length Hugh Miller's observations on this National 
Crime especially as his remarks largely embody the 
philosophical views and conclusions of the able and far- 
seeing French writer Sismondi, who in his great work 
declares : " It is by a cruel use of legal power it is by an 
unjust usurpation that the tacksman and the tenant of 
Sutherland are considered as having no right to the land 
which they have occupied for so man}'' ages. ... A 
count or earl has no more right to expel from their 
homes the inhabitants of his county, than a king to 

* Leading articles on Sutherland as it was and is. 


expel from his country the inhabitants of his kingdom." 
Hugh Miller introduces his remarks on Sutherland by a 
reference to the celebrated Frenchman's work, and his 
opinion of the Sutherland Clearances, thus : 

There appeared at Paris, about five years ago, a 
singularly ingenious work on political economy, from 
the pen of the late M. de Sismondi, a writer of 
European reputation. The greater part of the first 
volume is taken up with discussions on territorial 
wealth, and the condition of the cultivators of the soil ; 
and in this portion of the work there is a prominent place 
assigned to a subject which perhaps few Scotch readers 
would expect to see introduced through the medium of a 
foreign tongue to the people of a great continental state. 
We find this philosophic writer, whose works are known 
far beyond the limits of his language, devoting an entire 
essay to the case of the Duchess of Sutherland and her 
tenants, and forming a judgment on it very unlike the 
decision of political economists in our own country, who 
have not hesitated to characterise her great and singularly 
harsh experiment, whose worst effects we are but begin- 
ning to see, as at once justifiable in itself and happy in 
its results. It is curious to observe how deeds done as if 
in darkness and in a corner, are beginning, after the lapse 
of nearly thirty years, to be proclaimed on the house-tops. 
The experiment of the late Duchess was not intended to 
be made in the eye of Europe. Its details would ill bear 
the exposure. When Cobbett simply referred to it, 
only ten years ago, the noble proprietrix was startled, 
as if a rather delicate family secret was on the eve of 
being divulged ; and yet nothing seems more evident 
now than that civilised man all over the world is to be 
made aware of how the experiment was accomplished, 
and what it is ultimately to produce. 

In a time of quiet and good order, when law, whether in 
the right or the wrong, is all-potent in enforcing its find- 
ings, the argument which the philosophic Frenchman 
employs in behalf of the ejected tenantry of Sutherland 
is an argument at which proprietors may afford to smile. 
In a time of revolution, however, when lands change 


their owners, and old families give place to new ones, 
it might be found somewhat formidable, sufficiently 
so, at least, to lead a wise proprietor in an unsettled age 
rather to conciliate than oppress and irritate the class 
who would be able in such circumstances to urge it with 
most effect. It is not easy doing justice in a few sentences 
to the facts and reasonings of an elaborate essay ] but 
the line of argument runs thus : 

Under the old Celtic tenures the only tenures, be it 
remembered through which the Lords of Sutherland 
derive their rights to their lands, the Klaan, or children 
of the soil, were the proprietors of the soil " the whole 
of Sutherland," says Sismondi, belonged to " the men 
of Sutherland." Their chief was their monarch, and a 
very absolute monarch he was. " He gave the different 
tacks of land to his officers, or took them away from them, 
according as they showed themselves more or less useful 
in war. But though he could thus, in a military sense, 
reward or punish the clan, he could not diminish in the 
least the property of the clan itself ; " he was a chief, 
not a proprietor, and had " no more right to expel from 
their homes the inhabitants of his county, than a king to 
expel from his country the inhabitants of his kingdom." 
" Now, the Gaelic tenant," continues the Frenchman, 
" has never been conquered ; nor did he forfeit, on any 
after occasion, the rights which he originally possessed * " 
in point of right, he is still a co-proprietor with his captain. 
To a Scotchman acquainted with the law of property as 
it has existed among us, in even the Highlands, for the 
last century, and everywhere else for at least two centuries 
more, the view may seem extreme * not so, however, 
to a native of the Continent, in many parts of which 
prescription and custom are found ranged, not on the 
side of the chief, but on that of the vassal. " Switzer- 
land," says Sismondi, " which in so many respects re- 
sembles Scotland, in its lakes, its mountains, its 
climate, and the character, manners, and habits of its 
children, was likewise at the same period parcelled out 
among a small number of lords. If the Counts of Ky- 
burgh, of Lentzburg, of Hapsburg, and of Gruyeres, 


had been protected by the English laws, they would 
find themselves at the present day precisely in the con- 
dition in which the Earls of Sutherland were twenty 
years ago. Some of them would perhaps have had the 
same taste for improvements, and several republics would 
have been expelled from the Alps, to make room for 
flocks of sheep. But while the law has given to the 
Swiss peasant a guarantee of perpetuity, it is to the Scot- 
tish laird that it has extended this guarantee in the 
British empire, leaving the peasant in a precarious 
situation. The clan, recognised at first by the captain, 
whom they followed in war, and obeyed for their common 
ad vantage, as his friends and relations, then as his soldiers, 
then as his vassals, then as his farmers, he has come 
finally to regard as hired labourers, whom he may per- 
chance allow to remain on the soil of their common 
country for his own advantage, but whom he has the 
power to expel so soon as he no longer finds it for his 
interest to keep them." 

Arguments like those of Sismondi, however much their 
force may be felt on the Continent, would be formidable 
at home, as we have said, in only a time of revolution, 
when the very foundations of society would be unfixed, 
and opinions set loose, to pull down or re-construct at 
pleasure. But it is surely not uninteresting to mark 
how, in the course of events, that very law of England 
which, in the view of the Frenchman, has done the High- 
land peasant so much less, and the Highland chief so 
much more than justice, is bidding fair, in the case of 
Sutherland at least, to carry its rude equalising remedy 
along with it. Between the years 1811 and 1820, fifteen 
thousand inhabitants of this northern district were ejected 
from their snug inland farms, by means for which we 
would in vain seek a precedent, except, perchance, in the 
history of the Irish massacre. 

But though the interior of the county was thus im- 
proved into a desert, in which there are many thousands 
of sheep, but few human habitations, let it not be sup- 
posed by the reader that its general population was in 
any degree lessened. So far was this from being the case, 


that the census of 1821 showed an increase over the census 
of 1811 of more than two hundred ] and the present 
population of Sutherland exceeds, by a thousand, its 
population before the change. The county has not 
been depopulated its population has been merely 
arranged after a new fashion. The late Duchess found it 
spread equally over the interior and the sea-coast, and in 
very comfortable circumstances ; she left it compressed 
into a wretched selvage of poverty and suffering that 
fringes the county on its eastern and western shores, 
and the law which enabled her to make such an arrange- 
ment, maugre the ancient rights of the poor Highlander, 
is now on the eve of stepping in, in its own clumsy way, 
to make her family pay the penalty. The southern 
kingdom must and will give us a poor-law * and then 
shall the selvage of deep poverty which fringes the sea- 
coasts of Sutherland avenge on the titled proprietor of 
the county both his mother's error and his own. If our 
British laws, unlike those of Switzerland, failed miserably 
in her day in protecting the vassal, they will more than 
fail, in those of her successor, in protecting the lord. 
Our political economists shall have an opportunity of 
reducing their arguments regarding the improvements 
in Sutherland, into a few arithmetical terms, which the 
merest tyro will be able to grapple with. 

There is but poor comfort, however, to know, when 
one sees a country ruined, that the perpetrators of the 
mischief have not ruined it to their own advantage. 
We purpose showing how signal in the case of Sutherland 
this ruin has been, and how very extreme the infatua- 
tion which continues to possess its hereditary lord. We 
are old enough to remember the county in its original 
state, when it was at once the happiest and one of the 
most exemplary districts in Scotland, and passed, at two 
several periods, a considerable time among its hills * we 
are not unacquainted with it now, nor with its melanchol}* 
and dejected people, that wear out life in their comfort- 
less cottages on the sea-shore. The problem solved in 
this remote district of the kingdom is not at all unworthy 
the attention which it seems but beginning to draw, but 


which is already not restricted to one kingdom, or even 
one continent. 

But what, asks the reader, was the economic condition 
the condition with regard to circumstances and means 
of living of these Sutherland Highlanders ? How did 
they fare ? The question has been variously answered : 
much must depend on the class selected from among them 
as specimens of the whole, much, too, taking for granted 
the honesty of the party who replies, on his own condition 
in life, and his acquaintance with the circumstances 
of the poorer people of Scotland generally. The county 
had its less genial localities, in which, for a month or two 
in the summer season, when the stock of grain from the 
previous year was fast running out, and the crops on the 
ground not yet ripened for use, the people experienced 
a considerable degree of scarcity such scarcity as a 
mechanic in the South feels when he has been a fortnight 
out of employment. But the Highlander had resources 
in these seasons which the mechanic has not. He had 
his cattle and his wild potherbs, such as the mug- wort and 
the nettle. It has been adduced by the advocates of the 
change which has ruined Sutherland, as a proof of the 
extreme hardship of the Highlander's condition, that at 
such times he could have eaten as food broth made of 
nettles, mixed up with a little oatmeal, or have had 
recourse to the expedient of bleeding his cattle, and mak- 
ing the blood into a sort of pudding. And it is quite true 
that the Sutherlandshire Highlander was in the habit 
at such times, of having recourse to such food. It is 
not less true, however, that the statement is just as little 
conclusive regarding his condition, as if it were alleged 
that there must always be famine in France when the 
people eat the hind legs of frogs, or in Italy when they 
make dishes of snails. With regard to the general com- 
fort of the people in their old condition, there are better 
tests than can be drawn from the kind of food they 
occasionally ate. The country hears often of dearth in 
Sutherland now. Every year in which the crop falls a 
little below average in other districts, is a year of famine 
there, but the country never heard of dearth in Suther- 


land then. There were very few among the holders of 
its small inland farms who had not saved a little money. 
Their circumstances were such, that their moral nature 
found full room to develop itself, and in a way the world 
has rarely witnessed. Never were there a happier or 
more contented people, or a people more strongly attached 
to the soil ; and not one of them now lives in the altered 
circumstances on which they were so rudely precipitated 
by the landlord, who does not look back on this period 
of comfort and enjoyment with sad and hopeless regret. 

But we have not yet said how this ruinous revolution 
was effected in Sutherland, how the aggravations of the 
mode, if we may so speak, still fester in the recollections 
of the people, or how thoroughly that policy of the lord 
of the soil, through which he now seems determined to 
complete the work of ruin which his predecessor began, 
harmonizes with its worst details. We must first relate, 
however, a disastrous change which took place, in the 
providence of God, in the noble family of Sutherland, 
and which, though it dates fully eighty years back, may 
be regarded as pregnant with the disasters which after- 
wards befell the county. 

The marriage of the young countess into a noble 
English family was fraught with further disaster to the 
county. There are many Englishmen quite intelligent 
enough to perceive the difference between a smoky 
cottage of turf, and a whitewashed cottage of stone, 
whose judgments on their respective inhabitants would 
be of but little value. Sutherland, as a county of men, 
stood higher at this period than perhaps any other dis- 
trict in the British Empire j but, as our descriptions 
have shown, it by no means stood high as a county of 
farms and cottages. The marriage of the countess 
brought a new set of eyes upon it, eyes accustomed to 
quite a different face of things. It seemed a wild, rude 
county, where all was wrong, and all had to be set right, 
a sort of Russia on a small scale, that had just got another 
Peter the Great to civilize it, or a sort of barbarous 
Egypt, with an energetic AH Pasha at its head. Even 
the vast wealth and great liberality of the Stafford family 


militated against this hapless county ! It enabled them to 
treat it as a mere subject of an interesting experiment, 
in which gain to themselves was really no object, nearly 
as little so, as if they had resolved on dissecting a dog 
alive for the benefit of science. It was a still farther 
disadvantage, that they had to carry on their experi- 
ment by the hands, and to watch its first effects with the 
eyes, of others. The agonies of the dog might have had 
their softening influence on a dissecter who held the knife 
himself ; but there could be no such influence exerted 
over him, did he merely issue orders to his footman that 
the dissection should be completed, remaining himself, 
meanwhile, out of sight and out of hearing. The plan 
of improvement sketched out by his English family was 
a plan exceedingly easy of conception. Here is a vast 
tract of land, furnished with two distinct sources of 
wealth. Its shores may be made the seats of extensive 
fisheries, and the whole of its interior parcelled out into 
productive sheep farms. All is waste in its present 
state ; it has no fisheries, and two-thirds of its internal 
produce is consumed by the inhabitants. It had contri- 
buted, for the use of the community and the landlord, its 
large herds of black cattle ] but the English family saw, 
and, we believe, saw truly, that for every one pound of 
beef which it produced, it could be made to produce 
two pounds of mutton, and perhaps a pound of fish in 
addition. And it was resolved, therefore, that the 
inhabitants of the central districts, who, as they were 
mere Celts, could not be transformed, it was held, into 
store farmers, should be marched down to the sea-side, 
there to convert themselves into fishermen, on the 
shortest possible notice, and that a few farmers of capital, 
of the industrious Lowland race, should be invited to 
occupy the new sub-divisions of the interior. 

And, pray, what objections can be urged against so 
liberal and large-minded a scheme ? The poor inhabi- 
tants of the interior had very serious objections to urge 
against it. Their humble dwellings were of their own 
rearing \ it was they themselves who had broken in their 
little fields from the waste ; from time immemorial, 


far beyond the reach of history, had they possessed their 
mountain holdings, they had defended them so well 
of old that the soil was still virgin ground, in which the 
invader had found only a grave ; and their young men 
were now in foreign lands fighting at the command of 
their chieftainess the battles of their country, not in the 
character of hired soldiers, but of men who regarded 
these very holdings as their stake in the quarrel. To 
them, then, the scheme seemed fraught with the most 
flagrant, the most monstrous injustice. Were it to be 
suggested by some Chartist convention in a time of 
revolution that Sutherland might be still further im- 
proved that it was really a piece of great waste to 
suffer the revenues of so extensive a district to be squan- 
dered by one individual that it would be better to 
appropriate them to the use of the community in general 
that the community in general might be still further 
benefited by the removal of the said individual from 
Dunrobin to a roadside, where he might be profitably 
employed in breaking stones and that this new arrange- 
ment could not be entered on too soon the noble Duke 
would not be a whit more astonished, or rendered a whit 
more indignant by the scheme than were the High- 
landers of Sutherland by the scheme of his predecessor. 

The reader must keep in view, therefore, that if 
atrocities unexampled in Britain for at least a century 
were perpetrated in the clearing of Sutherland, there was 
a species of at least passive resistance on the part of the 
people (for active resistance there was none), which in 
some degree provoked them. Had the Highlanders, on 
receiving orders, marched down to the sea-coast and 
become fishermen with the readiness with which a 
regiment deploys on review day, the atrocities would, 
we doubt not, have been much fewer. But though the 
orders were very distinct, the Highlanders were very 
unwilling to obey \ and the severities formed merely 
a part of the means through which the necessary obedi- 
ence was ultimately secured. We shall instance a single 
case as illustrative of the process. 

In the month of March, 1814, a large proportion of the 


Highlanders of Farr and Kildonan,two parishes in Suther- 
land, were summoned to quit their farms in the following 
May. In a few days after, the surrounding heath on 
which they pastured their cattle and from which, at that 
season, the sole supply of herbage is derived (for in those 
northern districts the grass springs late, and the cattle- 
feeder in the spring months depends chiefly on the 
heather), were set on fire and burnt up. There was that 
sort of policy in the stroke which men deem allowable 
in a state of war. The starving cattle went roaming over 
the burnt pastures, and found nothing to eat. Many of 
them perished, and the greater part of what remained, 
though in miserable condition, the Highlanders had to 
sell perforce. Most of the able-bodied men were engaged 
in this latter business at a distance from home, when the 
dreaded term-day came on. The pasturage had been 
destroyed before the legal term, and while in even the eye 
of the law it was still the property of the poor High- 
landers \ but ere disturbing them in their dwellings, 
term-day was suffered to pass. The work of demolition 
then began. A numerous party of men, with a factor 
at their head, entered the district, and commenced 
pulling down the houses over the heads of the inhabi- 
tants. In an extensive tract of country not a human 
dwelling was left standing, and then, the more effectually 
to prevent their temporary re-erection, the destroyers set 
fire to the wreck. In one day were the people deprived 
of home and shelter, and left exposed to the elements. 
Many deaths are said to have ensued from alarm, fatigue, 
and cold. 

Our author then corroborates in detail the atrocities, 
cruelties, and personal hardships described by Donald 
MacLeod and proceeds : But to employ the language of 

" Things such as these, we know, must be 
At every famous victory." 

And in this instance the victory of the lord of the soil over 
the children of the soil was signal and complete. In little 
more than nine years a population of fifteen thousand 


individuals were removed from the interior of Sutherland 
to its sea-coasts or had emigrated to America. The 
inland districts were converted into deserts through 
which the traveller may take a long day's journey, amid 
ruins that still bear the scathe of fire, and grassy patches 
betraying, when the evening sun casts aslant its long deep 
shadows, the half-effaced lines of the plough. 

After pointing out how at the Disruption sites for 
churches were refused, Hugh Miller proceeds : We 
have exhibited to our readers, in the clearing of Suther- 
land a process of ruin so thoroughly disastrous, that it 
might be deemed scarcely possible to render it more 
complete. And yet with all its apparent completeness, 
it admitted of a supplementary process. To employ one 
of the striking figures of Scripture, it was possible to 
grind into powder what had been previously broken 
into fragments, to degrade the poor inhabitants to a 
still lower level than that on which they had been so 
cruelly precipitated, though persons of a not very 
original cast of mind might have found it difficult to say 
how the Duke of Sutherland has been ingenious enough 
to fall on exactly the one proper expedient for supple- 
menting their ruin. All in mere circumstance and 
situation that could lower and deteriorate had been 
present as ingredients in the first process ; but there 
still remained for the people, however reduced to povert}^ 
or broken in spirit, all in religion that consoles and 
ennobles. Sabbath-days came round with their human- 
ising influences ; and, under the teachings of the gospel, 
the poor and the oppressed looked longingly forward 
to a future scene of being, in which there is no poverty or 
oppression. They still possessed, amid their misery, 
something positively good, of which it was impossible 
to deprive them ; and hence the ability derived to the 
present lord of Sutherland of deepening and rendering 
more signal the ruin accomplished by his predecessor. 

These harmonise but too well with the mode in which 
the interior of Sutherland was cleared, and the improved 
cottages of its sea-coasts erected. The plan has its two 
items. No sites are to be granted in the district for Free 


Churches, and no dwelling-houses for Free Church min- 
isters. The climate is severe, the winters prolonged 
and stormy, the roads which connect the chief seats 
of population with the neighbouring counties, dreary 
and long. May not ministers and people be eventually 
worn out in this way ? Such is the portion of the plan 
which his Grace and his Grace's creatures can afford 
to present to the light. But there are supplementary 
items of a somewhat darker kind. The poor cotters are, 
in the great majority of cases, tenants-at-will \ and there 
has been much pains taken to inform them that, to the 
crime of entertaining and sheltering a Protesting minister, 
the penalty of ejection from their holdings must inevi- 
ably attach. The laws of Charles have again returned 
in this unhappy district, and free and tolerating Scotland 
has got, in the nineteenth century, as in the seventeenth, 
its intercommuned ministers. We shall not say that the 
intimation has emanated from the Duke. It is the mis- 
fortune of such men that there creep around them 
creatures whose business it is to anticipate their wishes ; 
but who, at times, doubtless, instead of anticipating 
misinterpret them ; and who, even when not very much 
mistaken, impart to whatever they do the impress of 
their own low and menial natures, and thus exaggerate 
in the act the intention of their masters. We do not say, 
therefore, that the intimation has emanated from the 
Duke ; but this we say, that an exemplary Sutherland- 
shire minister of the Protesting Church, who resigned 
his worldly all for the sake of his principles, had lately 
to travel, that he might preach to his attached people, 
a long journey of forty-four miles outwards, and as much 
in return, and all this without taking shelter under cover 
of a roof, or without partaking of any other refreshment 
than that furnished by the slender store of provisions 
which he had carried with him from his new home. 
Willingly would the poor Highlanders have received him 
at any risk ; but knowing from experience what a Suther- 
landshire removal means he preferred enduring any 
amount of hardship rather than that the hospitality of 
his people should be made the occasion of their ruin. 


We have already adverted to the case of a lady of Suther- 
land threatened with ejection from her home because 
she had extended the shelter of her roof to one of the 
Protesting clergy, an aged and venerable man, who had 
quitted the neighbouring manse, his home for many 
years, because he could no longer enjoy it in consistency 
with his principles ; and we have shown that that aged 
and venerable man was the lady's own father. What 
amount of oppression of a smaller and more petty char- 
acter may not be expected in the circumstances, when 
cases such as these are found to stand but a very little 
over the ordinary level ? 

The meannesses to which ducal hostility can stoop in 
this hapless district, impress with a feeling of surprise. 
In the parish of Dornoch for instance, where his Grace 
is fortunately not the sole landowner, there has been a 
site procured on the most generous terms from Sir George 
Gunn Munro of Pontyzfield ' and this gentleman, be- 
lieving himself possessed of a hereditary right to a quarry, 
which, though on the Duke's ground, had been long 
resorted to by the proprietors of the district generally, 
instructed the builder to take from it the stones which 
he needed. Never had the quarry been prohibited 
before, but on this occasion a stringent interdict arrested 
its use. If his Grace could not prevent a hated Free 
Church from arising in the district, he could at least add 
to the expense of its erection. We have even heard 
that the portion of the building previously erected had 
to be pulled down and the stones returned. 

How are we to account for a hostility so determined, 
and that can stoop so low ? In two different ways, we 
are of opinion, and in both have the people of Scotland 
a direct interest. Did his Grace entertain a very intense 
regard for Established Presbytery, it is probably that he 
himself would be a Presbyterian of the Establishment. 
But such is not the case. The church into which he would 
so fain force the people has been long since deserted by 
himself. The secret of the course which he pursues 
can have no connection therefore with religious motive 
or belief. It can be no prosetytising spirit that misleads 


his Grace. Let us remark, in the first place, rather 
however in the way of embodying a fact than imputing 
a motive, that with his present views, and in his present 
circumstances, it may not seem particularly his Grace's 
interest to make the county of Sutherland a happy or 
desirable home to the people of Scotland. It may not 
be his Grace's interest that the population of the district 
should increase. The clearing of the sea-coast may seem 
as little prejudicial to his Grace's welfare now as the 
clearing of the interior seemed adverse to the interests 
of his predecessor thirty years ago ; nay, it is quite 
possible that his Grace may be led to regard the clearing 
of the coast as the better and more important clearing 
of the two. Let it not be forgotten that a poor-law 
hangs over Scotland, that the shores of Sutherland are 
covered with what seems one vast straggling village, 
inhabited by an impoverished and ruined people, and 
that the coming assessment may yet fall so weighty that 
the extra profits accruing to his Grace from his large 
sheep-farms may go but a small way in supporting his 
extra paupers. It is not in the least improbable that he 
may live to find the revolution effected by his predecessor 
taking to itself the form, not of a crime, for that would 
be nothing, but of a disastrous and very terrible blunder. 
There is another remark which may prove not un- 
worthy the consideration of the reader. Ever since the 
completion of the fatal experiment which ruined Suther- 
land, the noble family through which it was originated 
and carried on have betrayed the utmost jealousy of 
having its real results made public. Volumes of special 
pleading have been written on the subject, pamphlets 
have been published, laboured articles have been inserted 
in widely-spread reviews, statistical accounts have been 
watched over with the most careful surveillance. If 
the misrepresentations of the press could have altered 
the matter of fact, famine would not be gnawing the 
vitals of Sutherland in a year a little less abundant than 
its predecessors, nor would the dejected and oppressed 
people be feeding their discontent, amid present misery, 
with the recollections of a happier past. If a singularly 



well-conditioned and wholesome district of country has 
been converted into one wide ulcer of wretchedness and 
woe, it must be confessed that the sore has been care- 
fully bandaged up from the public eye, that if there has 
been little done for its cure, there has at least been much 
done for its concealment. Now, be it remembered 
that a Free Church threatened to insert a tent into this 
wound and so keep it open. It has been said that the 
Gaelic language removes a district more effectually from 
the influence of English opinion than an ocean of three 
thousand miles, and that the British public know better 
what is doing in New York than what is doing in Lewis 
or Skye. And hence one cause, at least, of the thick 
obscurity that has so long enveloped the miseries which 
the poor Highlander has had to endure, and the oppres- 
sions to which he has been subjected. The Free Church 
threatens to translate her wrongs into English, and to 
give them currency in the general mart of opinion. She 
might possibly enough be no silent spectator of confla- 
grations such as those which characterised the first 
general improvement of Sutherland, nor yet of such 
Egyptian schemes of house-building as that which formed 
part of the improvements of a later plan. She might be 
somewhat apt to betray the real state of the district 
and thus render laborious misrepresentation of little 
avail. She might effect a diversion in the cause of the 
people, and shake the foundations of the hitherto despotic 
power which has so long weighed them down. She might 
do for Sutherland what Cobbett promised to do, but what 
Cobbett had not character enough to accomplish, and 
what did he not live even to attempt. A combination 
of circumstances have conspired to vest in a Scottish 
proprietor, in this northern district, a more despotic 
power than even the most absolute monarchs of the 
Continent possess ; and it is, perhaps, no great wonder 
that that proprietor should be jealous of the introduction 
of an element which threatens, it may seem, materially 
to lessen it. And so he struggled hard to exclude the 
Free Church, and, though no member of the Establish- 
ment himself, declares warmly in its behalf. Certain it 


is that from the Establishment as now constituted he 
can have nothing to fear and the people nothing to hope. 

After what manner may his Grace the Duke of Suther- 
land be most effectually met in this matter, so that the 
case of toleration and freedom of conscience may be 
maintained in the extensive district which God, in his 
providence, has consigned to his stewardship ? We are 
not unacquainted with the Celtic character as developed 
in the Highlands of Scotland. Highlanders, up to a 
certain point, are the most docile, patient, enduring of 
men ; but that point once passed, endurance ceases, 
and the all too gentle lamb starts up an angry lion. The 
spirit is stirred and maddens at the sight of the naked 
weapon, and that in its headlong rush upon the enemy, 
discipline can neither check nor control. Let our op- 
pressed Highlanders of Sutherland beware. They have 
suffered much ; but, so far as man is the agent, their 
battles can be fought only on the arena of public opinion, 
and on that ground which the political field may be soon 
found to furnish. 

Let us follow, for a little, the poor Highlanders of 
Sutherland to the sea-coast. It would be easy dwelling 
on the terrors of their expulsion, and multiplying facts of 
horror ; but had there been no permanent deterioration 
effected in their condition, these, all harrowing and re- 
pulsive as they were, would have mattered less. Suther- 
land would have soon recovered the burning up of a few 
hundred hamlets, or the loss of a few bed-ridden old 
people, who would have died as certainly under cover, 
though perhaps a few months later, as when exposed to 
the elements in the open air. Nay, had it lost a thousand 
of its best men in the way in which it lost so many at the 
storming of New Orleans, the blank ere now would have 
been completely filled up. The calamities of fire or of 
decimation even, however distressing in themselves, 
never yet ruined a country j no calamity ruins a country 
that leaves the surviving inhabitants to develop, in their 
old circumstances, their old character and resources. 

In one of the eastern eclogues of Collins, where two 
shepherds are described as flying for their lives before the 


troops of a ruthless invader, we see with how much of the 
terrible the imagination of a poet could invest the evils of 
war, when aggravated by pitiless barbarity. Fertile as 
that imagination was, however, there might be found 
new circumstances to heighten the horrors of the scene 
circumstances beyond the reach of invention in the 
retreat of the Sutherland Highlanders from the smoking 
ruins of their cottages to their allotments on the coast. 
We have heard of one man, named Mackay, whose family 
at the time of the greater conflagration referred to by 
Macleod, were all lying ill of fever, who had to carry two 
of his sick children on his back a distance of twenty-five 
miles. We have heard of the famished people blackening 
the shores, like the crew of some vessel wrecked on an 
inhospitable coast, that they might sustain life by the 
shell-fish and sea-weed laid bare by the ebb. Many of 
their allotments, especially on the western coast, were 
barren in the extreme unsheltered by bush or tree, 
and exposed to the sweeping sea-winds, and in time of 
tempest, to the blighting spray ; and it was found a 
matter of the extremest difficulty to keep the few cattle 
which they had retained, from wandering, especially 
in the night-time, into the better sheltered and more 
fertile interior. The poor animals were intelligent enough 
to read a practical comment on the nature of the change 
effected ; and, from the harshness of the shepherds to 
whom the care of the interior had been entrusted, they 
served materially to add to the distress of their unhappy 
masters. They were getting continually impounded ; 
and vexatious fines, in the form of trespass-money, came 
thus to be wrung from the already impoverished High- 
landers. Many who had no money to give were obliged 
to relieve them by depositing some of their few portable 
articles of value, such as bed or bodyclothes, or, more 
distressing still, watches, and rings, and pins the only 
relics, in not a few instances, of brave men whose bones 
were mouldering under the fatal rampart at New Orleans, 
or in the arid sands of Egypt on that spot of proud 
recollection, where the invincibles of Napoleon went down 
before the Highland bayonet. Their first efforts as 


fishermen were what might be expected from a rural 
people unaccustomed to the sea. The shores of Suther- 
land, for immense tracts together, are iron-bound, and 
much exposed open on the Eastern coast to the waves 
of the German Ocean, and on the North and West to the 
long roll of the Atlantic. There could not be more 
perilous seas for the unpractised boatman to take his 
first lessons on ; but though the casualties were numer- 
ous and the loss of life great, many of the younger High- 
landers became expert fishermen. The experiment was 
harsh in the extreme, but so far, at least, it succeeded. 
It lies open, however, to other objections than those which 
have been urged against it on the score of its inhu- 


No country of Europe at any period of its history ever 
presented more formidable obstacles to the improvement 
of a people arising out of the prejudices and feelings of the 
people themselves. To the tacksman, it is clear, from 
what has already been stated, such a change could not be 
agreeable. Its effect being to alter his condition, and 
remove him from a state of idle independence, in habits 
almost of equality with his chief, to a situation, although 
fully, if not more respectable, yet one in which his liveli- 
hood was to be obtained by his exertions and industry, 
and in many instances by an application to pursuits, 
which were by him considered as beneath the occupation 
of a gentleman, although leading to real independence 
and wealth, to a degree he never could arrive at in his 
original condition. Nor could it be agreeable to him to 
lose that command and influence, which he had hitherto 
exercised without control, over his sub-tenants and de- 

*An Account of the Improvements on the Estates of the Marquis 
of Stafford, by James Kinloch, General Agent of the 
Sutherland Estates. lyondon : Printed for Ivongman, Hurst, 
Rees, Orme & Brown, 1820). 


pendants ; while it was at variance with every feeling 
and prejudice in which he had been brought up and edu- 
cated. It required minds of no ordinary cast to rise 
superior to these feelings : and men of no common 
understanding and vigour of intellect were required, to 
shake off habits so opposed to active industry and exer- 
tion. From a certain set of this class, therefore, a real 
and determined opposition to any change was to be 
looked for. This expectation has not been disappointed \ 
and it is from individuals of this class, and persons con- 
nected with them, that those false and malignant re- 
presentations have proceeded, which have been so loudly 
and extensively circulated. Actuated by motives of a 
mere personal nature, regardless of the happiness of the 
people, whose improvement it was the great object of the 
landlord to effect, they attempted to make an appeal in 
favour of a set of people who were never before the 
objects of their commiseration, in order that they might, 
if possible, reduce them, for their own selfish purposes, 
to that state of degradation from which they had been 
just emancipated. This was, however, by no means true 
of the whole, or of the greater part of this class of gentle- 
men ] for the bulk of the most active improvers of Suther- 
land are natives, who, both as sheep farmers, and as skil- 
ful and enterprising agriculturists, are equal to any to be 
met with in the kingdom. They have, with an intelli- 
gence and liberality of feeling which reflects upon them 
the highest honour, embraced with alacrity the new scene 
of active exertion presented for their adoption ; second- 
ing the views of the landlords with the utmost zeal, 
marked with much foresight and prudence. Out of the 
twenty-nine principal tacksmen on the estate, seventeen 
are natives of Sutherland, four are Northumbrians, two 
are from the county of Moray, two from Roxburghshire, 
two from Caithness, one from Midlothian, and one from 
the Merse. 

So strong, however, were the prejudices of the people, 
that, even to those who were subjected to the power 
and control of the tacksmen, this mode of life had charms 
which attached them strongly to it. He extended, in 


some degree, to the more respectable of those who were 
placed under him, the same familiarity which he received 
from the chief. The burden of the outdoor work was 
cast upon the females. The men deemed such an occu- 
pation unworthy of them, continued labour of any sort 
being most adverse to their habits. They were contented 
with the most simple and the poorest fare. Like all moun- 
taineers, accustomed to a life of irregular exertion, with 
intervals of sloth, they were attached with a degree of 
enthusiasm, only felt by tLe natives of a poor country, 
to their own glen and mountainside, adhering in the 
strongest manner to the habits and homes of their fathers. 
They deemed no comfort worth the possessing, which was 
to be purchased at the price of regular industry ; no 
improvement worthy of adoption, if it was to be obtained 
at the expense of sacrificing the customs, or leaving the 
homes of their ancestors. So strongly did these feelings 
operate, that it cost them nearly the same effort to remove 
from the spot in which they were born and brought up, 
though the place of their new dwelling was situated on 
the sea-shore at the mouth of their native strath, or even 
in a neighbouring glen, as it cost them to make an exer- 
tion equal to transporting themselves across the Atlantic. 

The cattle which they reared on the mountains, and 
from the sale of which they depended for the payment of 
their rents, were of the poorest description. During 
summer they procured a scanty sustenance, with much 
toil and labour, by roaming over the mountains ; while 
in winter they died in numbers for the want of support ; 
notwithstanding a practice, which they universally 
adopted, of killing every second calf, on account of the 
want of winter keep. To such an extent did this calamity 
at times amount, that, in the spring of 1807, there died 
in the parish of Kildonan alone, two hundred cows, five 
hundred head of cattle, and more than two hundred small 

As soon as the works, undertaken under the direction 
of the Parliamentary Commissioners, opened a prospect 
of removing successfully the obstacles which stood in the 
way of the improvements of the people, steps were taken 


to new model and arrange these extensive possessions. 
The utmost caution and deliberation was used in doing so, 
and plans were never more maturely weighed, nor exe- 
cuted with more anxiety and tenderness. To aid the 
further arrangement of these matters, application was 
made to William Young, Esq., of Inverugie, in the 
county of Elgin, whose active mind and indefatigable 
industry had been exhibited in what he had done upon 
his own estate. This gentleman superintended the com- 
mencement of those vast improvements which were 
undertaken on the estate of Sutherland. The success 
of the measures carried into effect under his direction, 
combined with the difficulties he had to contend with, 
must always be the best proof of the ability and in- 
defatigable zeal with which he executed the charge of 
which he had taken the direction, and which he performed 
so much to his own credit and the advantage of the 
country. It is only doing justice to his merits to say, that 
the rapidity of the earlier improvements was owing in a 
principal degree to the impulse and action inspired by his 
intelligent and enterprising mind. Mr. Young resigned 
his superintendence in 1816, when the local management 
of the estate of Sutherland was entrusted to the present 
factor, Mr. Francis Suther, whose good temper and 
judicious conduct in the immediate management at Tren- 
tham, recommended him to the situation he now holds. 
These expectations have been fully justified by the 
manner he has executed the details of the late arrange- 
ments, in which he received the most cordial and able 
assistance from Captain John Mackay, late of the 26th 
Foot, the factor of Stratlyiaver, and from Lieutenant 
George Gunn, of the Royal Marines, Chief of the clan 
Gunn, factor of Assynt. 

These gentlemen deserve equal credit for the manner 
in which they have enforced and promoted the plans 
which were laid down for the extension of the fisheries 
and the cultivation of the coast side, as for their kind and 
careful conduct towards the people. Mr. Suther's 
exertions in promoting and carrying into effect every 
arrangement which was made for the encouragement 


and the success of the fishing station and village of Helms- 
dale> requires particular commendation. 

It is well known that the borders of the two kingdoms 
were inhabited by a numerous population, who, in their 
pursuits, manners, and general structure of society, bore a 
considerable resemblance to that which existed in the 
Highlands of Scotland. When the union of the crowns, 
and those subsequent transactions which arose out of 
that event, rendered the maintenance of that irregular 
population not only unnecessary, but a burden to the 
proprietor to whom the land belonged, the people were 
removed, and the mountains were covered with sheep. 
So that it had been for a length of time proved by the 
experience of the stock farmers of those mountain tracts, 
which comprise the northern districts of England, and the 
southern parts of Scotland, that such situations were 
peculiarly suited for the maintenance of this species of 
stock. Taking this example as their guide, experience 
had still further proved, that the central and western 
Highlands of Scotland were equally well calculated for 
the same end. 

Reasoning from this success, and observing that the 
climate of Sutherland, owing to its vicinity to the ocean, 
and to its being considerably intersected by arms of the 
sea, was much more moderate than this latter district, 
it was fairly concluded that this county was even better 
fitted for this system of management, than the heights 
of Perthshire and Inverness-shire. The inferior eleva- 
tion of its mountains contributed still further to this 
effect, and held out every encouragement to adopt the 
same course which had been pursued with such success 
in both parts of the kingdom. 

The succession of those Alpine plants, which are com- 
mon to the Cheviot Hills, when they are put under sheep, 
being also the natural herbage of the mountains of Suther- 
land, renders them still more suitable to this mode of 

On the first melting of the snow, the cotton grass is 
found to have been growing rapidly ; it forms a healthy 
and an abundant food for sheep, until about the begin- 


ning of May, at which time it is in seed ; when, after a 
short interval, the deer hair takes its place, starting up 
almost instantaneously, and forming, in the course of 
one week (if the ground has been recently burnt, 
and the weather be favourable), a green cover 
to the mountains. This plant grows with several 
varieties of bents, until the end of July, when the cotton 
grass again begins to spring, and with the pry moss, 
comes a second time into flower, in September, after 
which the heather and more heating plants continue 
until the frosts of winter. Nor is there any part of these 
mountains, over which the sheep cannot roam with ease, 
in search of food, rendering the whole available and pro- 

As there was every reason therefore for concluding, 
that the mountainous parts of the estate and indeed of 
the county of Sutherland, were as much calculated for 
the maintenance of stock as they were unfit for the 
habitation of man, there could be no doubt as to the pro- 
priety of converting them into sheep walks, provided 
the people could be at the same time settled in situations, 
where, by the exercise of their honest industry, they could 
obtain a decent livelihood, and add to the general mass 
of national wealth, and where they should not be exposed 
to the recurrence of those privations, which so frequently 
and so terribly afflicted them, when situated among the 
mountains. It was a matter of important consideration, 
to determine how this was to be accomplished. The local 
peculiarities of the county presented none of those ad- 
vantages in disposing of, and absorbing the surplus 
population, which the borders of the two kingdoms, and 
the southern and eastern highlands had enjoyed. Be- 
sides it had made no approximation to the state in which 
the rest of Scotland was placed, when those changes were 
carried into effect. It had stood still in the midst of that 
career of improvement which had so remarkably and so 
splendidly distinguished the rest of the kingdom ; and 
remained separated by its habits, prejudices, and 
language, from all around. 

It had long been known, that the coast of Sutherland 


abounded with many different kinds of fish, not only 
sufficient for the consumption of the country, but afford- 
ing also a supply to any extent, for more distant markets 
or for exportation, when cured and salted. Besides the 
regular and continual supply of white fish, with which 
the shores thus abound, the coast of Sutherland is 
annually visited by one of those vast shoals of herrings, 
which frequent the coast of Scotland. It seemed as if 
it had been pointed out by Nature, that the system for 
this remote district, in order that it might bear its suitable 
importance in contributing its share to the 
general stock of the country, was, to convert the 
mountainous districts into sheep walks, and to 
remove the inhabitants to the coast, or to the valleys 
near the sea. 

It will be seen, that the object to be obtained by this 
arrangement, was two-fold : it was, in the first place, 
to render this mountainous district contributory, as far 
as it was possible, to- the general wealth and industry 
of the country, and in the manner most suitable to its 
situation and peculiar circumstances. This was to be 
effected by making it produce a large supply of wool, 
for the staple manufactory of England. While, at the 
same time, it should support as numerous, and a far more 
laborious and useful population, than it hitherto had done 
at home : and, in the second place, to convert the in- 
habitants of those districts to the habits of regular and 
continued industry, and to enable them to bring to market 
a very considerable surplus quantity of provisions, for 
the supply of the large towns in the southern parts of the 
island, or for the purpose of exportation. 

A policy well calculated to raise the importance, and 
increase the happiness of the individuals themselves, who 
were the objects of the change, to benefit those to whom 
these extensive but hitherto unproductive possessions 
belonged, and to promote the general prosperity of the 
nation. Such was the system which was adopted. In 
carrying it into effect, every care was taken to explain 
the object proposed to be accomplished, to those who 
were to be removed, and to point out to them, the ulti- 


mate advantages that would necessarily accrue to them, 
from their completion. 

These communications were made to the people by the 
factor personally, or by written statements, communi- 
cated to them by the ground officers. That nothing 
might be omitted in this respect, the different ministers, 
and the principal tacksmen connected with the districts 
which were to be newly arranged, were written to, ex- 
plaining to them, fully and explicitly, the intentions of 
the proprietors in adopting them. It was particularly 
requested of these gentlemen, that they would impress 
upon the minds of the people, the propriety of agreeing 
to them, and of explaining, that the motives which 
dictated this step, arose out of a real regard for their 
interests and prosperity, as well as for the general im- 
provement of the estate. 

It was distinctly admitted, that it was not to be ex- 
pected, that the people should be immediately reconciled 
to them. Such was to expect more than it was possible 
to hope for. But it was represented, that if this was so 
fully felt, and so clearly admitted, that the landlords 
must have been strongly and conscientiously impressed 
with the necessity and propriety of the measures adopted, 
as tending directly to the happiness of those placed under 
their protection. These representations had the desired 
effect, and nothing can be more praiseworthy, or deserve 
more to be applauded, than the conduct of the people 
on quitting their original habitations ; for although they 
left them with much regret, they did so in the most quiet, 
orderly, and peaceable manner. 

If, upon one occasion, in the earlier years of these ar- 
rangements, a momentary feeling of a contrary nature was 
exhibited, it arose entirely from the misconduct of persons 
whose duty it was to have recommended and enforced 
obedience to the laws, in place of infusing into the minds 
of the people, feelings of a contrary description. As soon, 
however, as the interference of these persons was with- 
drawn, the poor people returned to their usual state of 
quietness and repose. All the statements, giving a 
different account of their conduct, are absolutely false, 


and a libel upon their good conduct and peaceable char- 

These arrangements commenced in 1807, and have been 
carried on from that period, as the different tacks ex- 
pired, and afforded an opportunity of doing so. Bad 
years, and the failure of crops continuing to produce the 
same miserable effects they had constantly occasioned 
to that portion of the population, which still continued 
to reside among the mountains. This calamity fell with 
great severity upon them in the seasons of 1812-13 and 

During the latter period they suffered the extremes 
of want and of human misery, notwithstanding every aid 
that could be given to them, through the bounty of their 
landlords. Their wretchedness was so great, that after 
pawning everything they were possessed of, to the fisher- 
men on the coast, such as had no cattle were reduced to 
come down from the hills in hundreds, for the purpose of 
gathering cockles on the shore. Those who lived in the 
more remote situations of the country were obliged to 
subsist upon broth made of nettles, thickened with a little 
oatmeal. Those who had cattle had recourse to the still 
more wretched expedient of bleeding them, and mixing 
the blood with oatmeal, which they afterwards cut into 
slices and fried. Those who had a little money came 
down and slept all night upon the beach, in order to 
watch the boat returning from the fishing, that they might 
be in time to obtain a part of what had been caught. 

In order to alleviate this misery, every exertion was 
made by Lord Stafford. To those who had cattle he 
advanced money to the amount of above three thousand 

To supply those who had no cattle, he sent meal into 
the country to the amount of nearly nine thousand 
pounds. Besides which, Lady Stafford distributed money 
to each parish on the estate : in order that no pains nor 
consideration might be wanting, it was arranged that the 
gentleman who is at the head of his Lordship's affairs, 
the writer of this statement, should go to Dunrobin to 
settle with the local management and the clergymen, 


what was the best and most effectual way of distributing 
his Lordship's relief. Similar means were taken by Lord 
Reay, to alleviate the distresses of his people. While 
such was the distress of those who still remained among 
the hills, it was hardly felt by those who had been settled 
upon the coast. Their new occupation, as fishermen, 
rendered them not only independent of that which pro- 
duced the misery of their neighbours, but enabled them 
at the same time, in some degree, to become contributors 
towards their support, both by the fish they were able to 
sell to them, and also by the regular payment of their 
rents. While it need hardly be stated, that these 
wretched sufferers not only required to be relieved, but 
failed entirely in the payment of what they owed the land- 


As to those ridiculous stories about the Duchess of 
Sutherland, which have found their way into many of the 
prints in America, one has only to be here, moving in 
society, to see how excessively absurd they are. 

All my way through Scotland, and through England, 
I was associating, from day to day, with people of every 
religious denomination, and every rank of life. I have 
been with dissenters and with churchmen ; with the 
national Presbyterian church and the free Presbyterian ; 
with Quakers and Baptists. 

In all these circles I have heard the great and noble 
of the land freely spoken of and canvassed, and if there 
had been the least shadow of a foundation for any such 
accusations, I certainly should have heard it recognized 
in some manner. If in no other, such warm friends as 
I have heard speak would have alluded to the subject 
in the way of defence ; but I have actually never heard 
any allusion of any sort, as if there was anything to be 
explained or accounted for. 

* " Sunny Memories," 1/etter xvii. 


As I have before intimated, the Howard family, to 
which the duchess belongs, is one which has always been 
on the side of popular rights and popular reform. Lord 
Carlisle, her brother, has been a leader of the people, 
particularly during the time of the corn-law reformation, 
and she has been known to take a wide and generous 
interest in all these subjects. Everywhere that I have 
moved through Scotland and England I have heard her 
kindness of heart, her affability of manner, and her 
attention to the feelings of others spoken of as marked 

Imagine, then, what people must think when they find 
in respectable American prints the absurd story of her 
turning her tenants out into the snow, and ordering the 
cottages to be set on fire over their heads because they 
would not go out. 

But, if you ask how such an absurd story could ever 
have been made up, whether there is the least foundation 
to make it on, I answer that it is the exaggerated report 
of a movement made by the present Duke of Suther- 
land's father, in the year 1811, and which was part of a 
great movement that passed through the Highlands of 
Scotland, when the advancing progress of civilisation 
began to make it necessary to change the estates from 
military to agricultural establishments. 

Soon after the union of the crowns of England and 
Scotland, the border chiefs found it profitable to adopt 
upon their estates that system of agriculture to which 
their hills were adapted, rather than to continue the 
maintenence of military retainers. Instead of keeping 
garrisons, with small armies, in a district, they decided 
to keep only so many as could profitably cultivate the 
land. The effect of this, of course, was like disbanding 
an army. It threw many people out of employ, and forced 
them to seek for a home elsewhere. Like many other 
movements which, in their final results, are beneficial 
to society, this was at first vehemently resisted, and had 
to be carried into effect in some cases by force. As I 
have said, it began first in the southern counties of 
Scotland, soon after the union of the English and Scottish 


crowns, and gradually crept northward one county 
after another yielding to the change. To a certain 
extent, as it progressed northward, the demand for 
labour in the great towns absorbed the surplus popu- 
lation ; but when it came in to the extreme Highlands, 
this refuge was wanting. Emigration to America now 
became the resource ; and the surplus population were 
induced to this by means such as the Colonization Society 
now recommends and approves for promoting emigration 
to Liberia. 

The first farm that was so formed on the Sutherland 
estate was in 1806. The great change was made in 
1811-12, and completed in 1819-20. 

The Sutherland estates are in the most northern portion 
of Scotland. The distance of this district from the more 
advanced parts of the kingdom, the total want of roads, 
the unfrequent communication by sea, and the want of 
towns, made it necessary to adopt a different course in 
regard to the location of the Sutherland population 
from that which circumstances had provided in other 
parts of Scotland, where they had been removed from the 
bleak and uncultivable mountains. They had lots given 
them near the sea, or in more fertile spots, where, by 
labour and industry, they might maintain themselves. 
They had two years allowed them for preparing for the 
change, without payment of rent. Timber for their 
houses was given, and many other facilities for assisting 
their change. 

The general agent of the Sutherland estate is Mr. Loch. 
In a speech of this gentleman in the House of Commons 
on the second reading of the Scotch Poor-Law Bill, June 
12, 1845, he states the following fact with regard to the 
management of the Sutherland estate during this period, 
from 1811 to 1833, which certainly can speak for itself : 
" I can state as from fact that, from 1811 to 1833, not one 
sixpence of rent has been received from that county, but, 
on the contrary, there has been sent there, for the benefit 
and improvement of the people, a sum exceeding sixty 
thousand pounds." 

Mr. Loch goes on in the same speech to say : " There 


is no set of people more industrious than the people of 
Sutherland. Thirty years since they were engaged in 
illegal distillation to a very great extent ; at the present 
moment there is not, I believe, an illegal still in the 
county. Their morals have improved as those habits 
have been abandoned ; and they have added many 
hundreds, I believe thousands, of acres to the land in 
cultivation since they were placed upon the shore. 

" Previous to the change to which I have referred, they 
exported very few cattle, and hardly anything else. 
They were also, every now and then, exposed to all the 
difficulties of extreme famine. In the years 1812-13, 
and 1816-17, so great was the misery that it was necessary 
to send down oatmeal for their supply to the amount of 
nine thousand pounds, and that was given to the people. 
But, since, industrious habits were introduced, and they 
were settled within reach of fishing, no such calamity 
has overtaken them. Their condition was then so low 
that they were obliged to bleed their cattle during the 
winter, and mix the blood with the remnant of meal they 
had, in order to save from them starvation. 

" Since then the country has improved so much that 
the fish, in particular, which they exported, in 1815, 
from one village alone, Helmsdale (which, previous to 
1811, did not exist), amounted to five thousand three 
hundred and eighteen barrels of herring, and in 1844 
thirty-seven thousand five hundred and ninety-four 
barrels, giving employment to about three thousand 
nine hundred people. This extends over the whole 
of the county, in which fifty-six thousand barrels were 

11 Do not let me be supposed to say that there are not 
cases requiring attention : it must be so in a large popu- 
lation ; but there can be no means taken by a landlord, 
or by those under him, that are not bestowed upon that 

" It has been said that the contribution by the heritor 
(the duke) to one kirk session for the poor was but six 
pounds. Now, in the eight parishes which are called 
Sutherland proper, the amount of the contribution of 



the Duke of Sutherland to the kirk session is forty-two 
pounds a-year. That is a very small sum, but that sum 
merely is so given because the landlord thinks that he 
can distribute his charity in a more beneficial manner 
to the people ; and the amount of charity which he gives 
and which, I may say, is settled on them, for it is given 
regularly is above four hundred and fifty pounds a- 

" Therefore the statements that have been made, so 
far from being correct, are in every way an exaggeration 
of what is the fact. No portion of the kingdom has 
advanced in prosperity so much ; and if the honourable 
member (Mr. S. Crawford) will go down there, I will give 
him every facility for seeing the state of the people, 
and he shall judge with his own eyes whether my repre- 
sentation be not correct. I could go through a great 
many other particulars, but I will not trouble the House 
now with them. The statements I have made are accur- 
ate, and I am quite ready to prove them in any way that 
is necessary." 

The same Mr. Loch has published a pamphlet, in which 
he has traced out the effects of the system pursued on the 
Sutherland estate, in many very important particulars. 
It appears from this that previously to 1811 the people 
were generally sub-tenants to middlemen, who exacted 
high rents, and also various perquisites, such as the de- 
livery of poultry and eggs, giving so many days' labour 
in harvest time, cutting and carrying peat and stones for 

Since 1811 the people have become immediate tenants, 
at a greatly diminished rate of rent, and released from all 
these exactions. For instance, in two parishes, in 1812, 
the rents were one thousand five hundred and ninety- 
three pounds, and in 1823 they were only nine hundred 
and seventy-two pounds. In another parish the re- 
duction of rents has amounted, on an average, to thirty- 
six per cent. Previous to 1811 the houses were turf 
huts of the poorest description, in many instances the 
cattle being kept under the same roof with the family. 
Since 1811 a large proportion of their houses have been 


rebuilt in a superior manner the landlord having paid 
them for their old timber where it could not be moved, 
and having also contributed the new timber, with lime. 

Before 1811 all the rents of the estates were used for the 
personal profit of the landlord ; but since that time, both 
by the present duke and his father, all the rents have been 
expended on improvements in the county, besides sixty 
thousand pounds more which have been remitted from 
England for the purpose. This money has been spent on 
churches, school-houses, harbours, public inns, roads, and 

In 1811 there was not a carriage-road in the county, 
and only two bridges. Since that time four hundred and 
thirty miles of road have been constructed on the estate, 
at the expense of the proprietor and tenants. There is 
not a turnpike-gate in the county, and yet the roads are 
kept perfect. 

Before 1811 the mail was conveyed entirely by a foot 
runner, and there was but one post-office in the county ; 
and there was no direct post across the county, but letters 
to the north and west were forwarded once a month. A 
mail-coach has since been established, to which the late 
Duke of Sutherland contributed more than two thousand 
six hundred pounds ; and since 1834 mail-gigs have been 
established to convey letters to the north and west coast, 
towards which the Duke of Sutherland contributes three 
hundred pounds a year. There are sixteen post-offices 
and sub-offices in the county. Before 1811 there was 
no inn in the county fit for the reception of strangers. 
Since that time there have been fourteen inns either built 
or enlarged by the duke. 

Before 1811 there was scarcely a cart on the estate * 
all the carriage was done on the backs of ponies. The 
cultivation of the interior was generally executed with a 
rude kind of spade, and there was not a gig in the county. 
In 1845 there were one thousand one hundred and thirty 
carts owned on the estate, and seven hundred and eight 
ploughs, also forty-one gigs. 

Before 1812 there was no baker, and only two shops. 
In 1845 there were eight bakers and forty-six grocers' 


shops, in nearly all of which shoe- blacking was sold to 
some extent, an unmistakable evidence of advancing 

In 1808 the cultivation of the coast-side of Sutherland 
was so defective that it was necessary often, in a fall of 
snow, to cut down the young Scotch firs to feed the cattle 
on ; and in 1808 hay had to be imported. Now the coast 
side of Sutherland exhibits an extensive district of land 
cultivated according to the best principles of modern 
agriculture ; several thousand acres have been added to 
the arable land by these improvements. 

Before 1811 there were no woodlands of any extent on 
the estate, and timber had to be obtained from a distance. 
Since that time many thousand acres of woodland have 
been planted, the thinnings of which, being sold to the 
people at a moderate rate, have greatly increased their 
comfort and improved their domestic arrangements. 

Before 1811 there were only two blacksmiths in the 
county. In 1845 there were forty-two blacksmiths and 
sixty-three carpenters. Before 1829 the exports of the 
county consisted of black cattle of an inferior description, 
pickled salmon, and some ponies ; but these were pre- 
carious sources of profit, as many died in winter for want 
of food ; for example, in the spring of 1807, two hundred 
cows, five hundred cattle, and more than two hundred 
ponies died in the parish of Kildonan alone. Since that 
time the measures pursued by the Duke of Sutherland, 
in introducing improved breeds of cattle, pigs, and modes 
of agriculture, have produced results in exports which 
tell their own story. About forty thousand sheep and 
one hundred and eighty thousand fleece of wool are ex- 
ported annually J also fifty thousand barrels of herring. 

The whole fishing village of Helmsdale has been built 
since that time. It now contains from thirteen to fifteen 
curing yards covered with slate, and several streets with 
houses similarly built. The herring fishery, which has 
been mentioned as so productive, has been established 
since the change, and affords employment to three 
thousand nine hundred people. 

Since 1811, also, a savings-bank has been established 


in every parish, of which the Duke of Sutherland is 
patron and treasurer, and the savings have been very 

The education of the children of the people has been a 
subject of deep interest to the Duke of Sutherland. Be- 
sides the parochial schools (which answer, I suppose, to 
our district schools), of which the greater number have 
been rebuilt or repaired at an expense exceeding what is 
legally required for such purposes, the Duke of Suther- 
land contributes to the support of several schools for 
young females, at which sewing and other branches of 
education are taught ' and in 1844 he agreed to establish 
twelve General Assembly schools, in such parts of the 
county as were without the sphere of the parochial 
schools, and to build schools and schoolmasters' houses, 
which will, upon an average, cost two hundred pounds 
each ; and to contribute annually two hundred pounds 
in aid of salaries to the teachers, besides a garden and 
cow's grass * and in 1845 he made an arrangement with 
the education committee of the Free Church, whereby no 
child, of whatever persuasion, will be beyond the reach 
of moral and religious education. 

There are five medical gentlemen on the estate, three of 
whom receive allowances from the Duke of Sutherland for 
attendance on the poor in the districts in which they 

An agricultural association, or farmers' club, has been 
formed under the patronage of the Duke of Sutherland, of 
which the other proprietors in the county, and the larger 
tenantry, are members, which is in a very active and 
flourishing state. They have recently invited Professor 
Johnston to visit Sutherland and give lectures on agri- 
cultural chemistry. 

The total population of the Sutherland estate is twenty- 
one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four. To have 
the charge and care of so large an estate, of course, must 
require very systematic arrangements ; but a talent 
for system seems to be rather the forte of the English. 

The estate is first divided into three districts, and each 
district is under the superintendence of a factor, who 


communicates with the duke through a general agent. 
Besides this, when the duke is on the estate, which is 
during a portion of every year, he receives on Monday 
whoever of his tenants wishes to see him. Their com- 
plaints or wishes are presented in writing ; he takes them 
into consideration, and gives written replies. 

Besides the three factors there is a ground officer, or 
sub-factor, in every parish, and an agriculturist in the 
Dunrobin district, who gives particular attention to 
instructing the people in the best methods of farming. 
The factors, the ground officers, and the agriculturists, 
all work to one common end. They teach the advantages 
of draining ; of ploughing deep, and forming their 
ridges in straight lines ; of constructing tanks for saving 
liquid manure. The young farmers also pick up a great 
deal of knowledge when working as ploughmen or 
labourers on the more immediate grounds of the estate. 

The head agent, Mr. Loch, has been kind enough to put 
into my hands a general report of the condition of the 
estate, which he drew up for the inspection of the duke, 
May 12, 1853, and in which he goes minutely over the 
condition of every part of the estate. 

One anecdote of the former Duke of Sutherland will 
show the spirit which has influenced the family in their 
management of the estate. In 1817, when there was 
much suffering on account of bad seasons, the Duke of 
Sutherland sent down his chief agent to look into the 
condition of the people, who desired the ministers of 
the parishes to send in their lists of poor. To his surprise 
it was found that there were located on the estate a num- 
ber of people who had settled there without leave. They 
amounted to hour hundred and eight families, or two 
thousand persons ; and though they had no legal title 
to remain where they were, no hesitation was shown in 
supplying them with food in the same manner with those 
who were tenants, on the sole condition that on the first 
opportunity they should take cottages on the sea-shore, 
and become industrious people. It was the constant 
object of the duke to keep the rents of his poorer tenants 
at a nominal amount . 


What led me more particularly to inquire into these 
facts was, that I received by mail, while in London, an 
account containing some of these stories, which had been 
industriously circulated in America. There were dread- 
ful accounts of cruelties practised in the process of induc- 
ing the tenants to change their places of residence. The 
following is a specimen of these stories : 

" I was present at the pulling down and burning of the 
house of William Chisholm, Badinloskin, in which was 
lying his wife's mother, an old, bed-ridden woman of 
near one hundred years of age, none of the family being 
present. I informed the persons about to set fire to the 
house of this circumstance, and prevailed on them to 
wait till Mr. Sellar came. On his arrival I told him of 
the poor old woman, being a condition unfit for removal. 
He replied, ' The old witch ! she has lived too long ; 
let her burn/ Fire was immediately set to the house, 
and the blankets in which she was carried were in flames 
before she could be got out. She was placed in a little 
shed, and it was with great difficulty they were prevented 
from firing that also. The old woman's daughter arrived 
while the house was on fire, and assisted the neighbours 
in removing her mother out of the flames and smoke, 
presenting a picture of horror which I shall never forget but 
cannot attempt to describe. She died within five days/' 
paper, I can now state that the Duke of Sutherland has 

With regard to this story, Mr. Loch, the agent, says : 
" I must notice the only thing like a fact stated in the 
newspaper extract which you sent to me, wherein Mr. 
Sellar is accused of acts of cruelty towards some of the 
people. This Mr. Sellar tested, by bringing an action 
against the then Sheriff-substitute of the county. He 
obtained a verdict for heavy damages. The Sheriff, by 
whom the slander was propagated, left the county. 
Both are since dead." 

Having, through Lord Shaftesbury's kindness, received 
the benefit of Mr. Loch's corrections to this statement, I 
am permitted to make a little further extract from his 
reply. He says : 

" In addition to what I was able to say in my former 


received from one of the most determined opposers of the 
measures, who travelled to the north of Scotland as editor 
of a newspaper, a letter regretting all he had written on 
the subject, being convinced that he was entirely misin- 
formed. As you take so much interest in the subject, I 
will conclude by saying that nothing could exceed the 
prosperity of the county during the past year ; their 
stock, sheep, and other things sold at high prices ; their 
crops of grain and turnips were never so good, and the 
potatoes were free from all disease : rents have been 
paid better than was ever known. * * * As an 
instance of the improved habits of the farmers, no house 
is now built for them that they do not require a hot bath 
and water-closets." 

From this long epitome you can gather the following 
results. First, if the system were a bad one, the Duchess 
of Sutherland had nothing to do with it, since it was first 
introduced in 1806, the same year her grace was born ; 
and the accusation against Mr. Sellar, dates in 1811, when 
her grace was five or six years old. The Sutherland 
arrangements were completed in 1819, and her grace was 
not married to the duke till 1823, so that, had the arrange- 
ment been the worst in the world, it is nothing to the 
purpose so far as she is concerned. 

As to whether the arrangement is a bad one, the facts 
which have been stated speak for themselves. To my 
view it is an almost sublime instance of the benevolent 
employment of superior wealth and power in shortening 
the struggles of advancing civilization, and elevating in 
a few years a whole community to a point of education 
and material prosperity, which, unassisted, they might 
never have obtained. 


From the year 1812 to 1820, the whole interior of the 
county of Sutherland whose inhabitants were advancing 

* From enlarged edition of " Gloomy Memories," published in 
Canada in 1857. 


rapidly in the science of agriculture and education, who 
by nature and exemplary training were the bravest, 
the most moral and patriotic people that ever existed 
even admitting a few of them did violate the excise laws, 
the only sin which Mr. Loch and all the rest of their 
avowed enemies could bring against them where a 
body of men could be raised on the shortest possible 
notice that kings and emperors might and would be proud 
of ; and where the whole fertile valleys and straths 
which gave them birth were in due season waving with 
corn ; their mountains and hill-sides studded with sheep 
and cattle ; where rejoicing, felicity, happiness, and true 
piety prevailed ; where the martial notes of the bagpipes 
sounded and reverberated from mountain to glen, from 
glen to mountain. I say, marvellous ! in eight years 
converted to a solitary wilderness, where the voice of man 
praising God is not to be heard, nor the image of God upon 
man to be seen ; where you can set a compass with twenty 
miles of a radius upon it, and go round with it full 
stretched, and not find one acre of land within the cir- 
cumference which has come under the plough for the last 
thirty years, except a few in the parishes of Lairg and 
Tongue, all under mute brute animals. This is the 
advancement of civilization, is it not, madam ? 

Return now with me to the beginning of your elaborate 
eulogy on the Duchess of Sutherland, and if you are open 
to conviction, I think you should be convinced that I never 
published nor circulated in the American, English, or 
Scotch public prints any ridiculous, absurd stories about 
her Grace of Sutherland. An abridgment of my lucubra- 
tions is now in the hands of the public, and you may per- 
use them. I stand by them as facts (stubborn chiels). 
I can prove them to be so even in this country (Canada), 
by a cloud of living witnesses, and my readers will find 
that, instead of bringing absurd accusations against her 
Grace, that I have endeavoured in some instances to 
screen her and her predecessors from the public odium 
their own policy and the doings of their servants merited. 
Moreover, there is thirty years since I began to ex- 
postulate with the House of Sutherland for their short- 


sighted policy in dealing with their people as they were 
doing, and it is twenty years since I began to expose them 
publicly, with my real name, Donald MacLeod, attached 
to each letter, sending a copy of the public paper where it 
appeared, directed by post, to the Duke of Sutherland. 
These exposing and remonstrating letters were published 
in the Edinburgh papers, where the Duke and his pre- 
decessors had their principal Scotch law agent, and you 
may easily believe that I was closely watched, with the 
view to find one false accusation in my letters, but they 
were baffled. I am well aware that each letter I have 
written on the subject would, if untrue, constitute a libel, 
and I knew the editors, printers, and publishers of these 
papers were as liable or responsible for libel as I was. 
But the House of Sutherland could never venture to 
raise an action of damages against either of us. In 1841, 
when I published my first pamphlet, I paid $4 5oc., for 
binding one of them, in a splendid style, which I sent 
by mail to his Grace the present Duke of Sutherland, 
with a complimentary note requesting him to peruse it, 
and let me know if it contained anything offensive or 
untrue. I never received a reply, nor did I expect it ; 
yet I am satisfied that his Grace did peruse it. I posted a 
copy of it to Mr. Loch, his chief commissioner * to Mr. 
W. Mackenzie, his chief lawyer in Edinburgh ; to every 
one of their underlings, to sheep farmers, and ministers 
in the county of Sutherland, who abetted the depopu- 
lators, and I challenged the whole of them, and other 
literary scourges who aid and justified their unhallowed 
doings, to gainsay one statement I have made. Can you 
or any other believe that a poor sinner like Donald 
MacLeod would be allowed for so many years to escape 
with impunity, had he been circulating and publishing 
calumnious, absurd falsehoods against such personages 
as the House of Sutherland ? No, I tell you, if money 
could secure my punishment, without establishing their 
own shame and guilt, that it would be considered well- 
spent long ere now, they would eat me in penny pies 
if they could get me cooked for them. 

I agree with you that the Duchess of Sutherland is a 


beautiful, accomplished lady, who would shudder at the 
idea of taking a faggot or a burning torch in her hand to 
set fire to the cottages of her tenants, and so would her 
predecessor, the first Duchess of Sutherland, her good 
mother ; likewise would the late and present Dukes of 
Sutherland, at least I am willing to believe that they 
would. Yet it was done in their name, under their 
authority, to their knowledge, and with their sanction. 
The dukes and duchesses of Sutherland, and those of 
their depopulating order, had not, nor have they any call 
to defile their pure hands in milder work than to burn 
people's houses ; no, no, they had, and have plenty of 
willing tools at their beck to perform their dirty work. 
Whatever amount of humanity and purity of heart the 
late or the present Duke and Duchess may possess or be 
ascribed to them, we know the class of men from whom 
they selected their commissioners, factors, and under- 
lings. I knew every one of the unrighteous servants who 
ruled the Sutherland estate for the last fifty years, and 
I am justified in saying that the most skilful phrenologist 
and physiognomist that ever existed could not discern 
one spark of humanity in the whole of them, from Mr. 
Loch down to Donald Sgrios, or Damnable Donald, 
the name by which the latter was known. The most 
of those cruel executors of the atrocities I have been 
describing are now dead, and to be feared but not 
lamented. But it seems their chief was left to give you 
all the information you required about British slavery 
and oppression. I have read from speeches delivered 
by Mr. Loch at public dinners among his own party, 
" that he would never be satisfied until the Gaelic 
language and the Gaelic people would be extirpated root 
and branch from the Sutherland estate ; yes, from the 
Highlands of Scotland." He published a book, where he 
stated as a positive fact, " that when he got the manage- 
ment of the Sutherland estate he found 408 families on 
the estate who never heard the name of Jesus," whereas 
I could make oath that there were not at that time, and 
for ages prior to it, above two families within the limits 
of the county who did not worship that Name and holy 


Being every morning and evening. I know there are 
hundreds in the Canadas who will bear me out in this 
assertion. I was at the pulling down and burning of the 
house of William Chisholm. I got my hands burnt taking 
out the poor old woman from amidst the flames of her 
once-comfortable though humble dwelling, and a more 
horrifying and lamentable scene could scarcely be wit- 
nessed. I may say the skeleton of a once tall, robust, 
high-cheek-boned, respectable woman, who had seen 
better days ; who could neither hear, see, nor speak ; 
without a tooth in her mouth, her cheek skin meeting in 
the centre, her eyes sunk out of sight in their sockets, 
her mouth wide open, her nose standing upright among 
smoke and flames, uttering piercing moans of distress 
and agony, in articulations from which could be only 
understood, " Oh, Dhia, Dhia, teine, teine Oh God, 
God, fire, fire." When she came to the pure air, her 
bosom heaved to a most extraordinary degree, accom- 
panied by a deep hollow sound from her lungs, comparable 
to the sound of thunder at a distance. When laid down 
upon the bare, soft, moss floor of the roofless shed, I will 
never forget the foam of perspiration which emitted and 
covered the pallid death-looking countenance. This was 
a scene, madam, worthy of an artist's pencil, and of a 
conspicuous place on the stages of tragedy. Yet you 
call this a specimen of the ridiculous stories which found 
their way into respectable prints, because Mr. Loch, 
the chief actor, told you that Sellar, the head executive, 
brought an action against the sheriff and obtained a 
verdict for heavy damages. What a subterfuge ; but 
it will not answer the purpose, " the bed is too short to 
stretch yourself, and the covering too narrow and short to 
cover you." If you took the information and evidence 
upon which you founded your Uncle Tom's Cabin from 
such unreliable sources (as I said before), who can believe 
the one-tenth of your novel ? I cannot. I have at my 
hand here the grandchild of the slaughtered old woman, 
who recollects well of the circumstance. I have not far 
from me a respectable man, an elder in the Free Church, 
who was examined as a witness at Sellar's trial, at the 


Spring Assizes of Inverness, in 1816, which you will find 
narrated in letters four and five of my work. Had you 
the opportunity, madam, of seeing the scenes which I, 
and hundreds more, have seen the wild ferocious appear- 
ance of the infamous gang who constituted the burning 
party, covered over face and hands with soot and ashes of 
the burning houses, cemented by torch-grease and their 
own sweat, kept continually drunk or half-drunk while at 
work ; and to observe the hellish amusements some of 
them would get up for themselves and for an additional 
pleasure to their leaders ! The people's houses were 
generally built upon declivities, and in many cases not 
far from pretty steep precipices. They preserved their 
meal in tight-made boxes, or chests, as they were called, 
and when this fiendish party found any quantity of meal, 
they would carry it between them to the brink, and dis- 
patch it down the precipice amidst shrieks and yells. 
It was considered grand sport to see the box breaking to 
atoms and the meal mixed with the air. When they 
would set fire to a house, they would watch any of the 
domestic animals making their escape from the flames, 
such as dogs, cats, hens, or any poultry ; these were caught 
and thrown back to the flames grand sport for demons 
in human form ! 

As to the vaunted letter which his " Grace received 
from one of the most determined opposers of the mea- 
sures, who travelled in the north of Scotland as editor of a 
newspaper, regretting all that he had written on the sub- 
ject, being convinced that he was misinformed," I may 
tell you, madam, that this man did not travel to the 
north or in the north of Scotland, as editor ; his name was 
Thomas Mulock ; he came to Scotland a fanatic specu- 
lator in literature in search of money, or a lucrative 
situation, vainly thinking that he would be a dictator 
to every editor in Scotland. He first attacked the 
immortal Hugh Miller of the Witness, Edinburgh, but 
in him he met more than his match. He then went to the 
north, got hold of my first pamphlet, and by setting it up 
in a literary style, and in better English than I, he made a 
splendid and promising appearance in the northern 


papers for some time ; but he found out that the money 
expected was not coming in, and that the hotels, head 
inns, and taverns would not keep him up any longer 
without the prospect of being paid for the past or for the 
future. I found out that he was hard up, and a few of the 
Highlanders in Edinburgh and myself sent him from 
twenty to thirty pounds sterling. When he saw that 
that was all he was to get, he at once turned tail upon us, 
and instead of expressing his gratitude, he abused us 
unsparingly, and regretted that ever he wrote in behalf 
of such a hungry, moneyless class. He smelled (like others 
we suspect) where the gold was hoarded up for hypocrites 
and flatterers, and that one apologising letter to his 
Grace would be worth ten times as much as he could 
expect from the Highlanders all his lifetime ; and I 
doubt not it was, for his apology for the sin of mis- 
information got wide circulation. 

He then went to France and started an English paper in 
Paris, and for the service he rendered Napoleon in crush- 
ing republicanism during the besieging of Rome, etc., the 
Emperor presented him with a gold pin, and in a few 
days afterwards sent a gendarme to him with a brief 
notice that his service was not any longer required, and a 
warning to quit France in a few days, which he had to do. 
What became of him after I know not, but very likely 
he is dictating to young Loch, or some other Metternich. 

No feelings of hostile vindictiveness, no desire to inflict 
chastisement, no desire to make riches, influenced my 
mind, pourtraying the scenes of havoc and misery which 
n those past days darkened the annals of Sutherland. I 
write in my own humble style, with higher aims, wishing 
to prepare the way for demonstrating to the Dukes of 
Sutherland, and all other Highland proprietors, great and 
small, that the path of selfish aggrandisement and op- 
pression leads by sure and inevitable results, yea to the 
ruin and destruction of the blind and misguided op- 
pressors themselves. I consider the Duke himself 
victimised on a large scale by an incurably wrong system, 
and by being enthralled by wicked counsellors and ser- 
vants. I have no hesitation in saying, had his Grace and 


his predecessors bestowed one-half of the encouragement 
they had bestowed upon strangers on the aborigines a 
hardy, healthy, abstemious people, who lived peaceably 
in their primitive habitations, unaffected with the vices 
of a subtle civilization, possessing little, but enjoying 
much ; a race devoted to their hereditary chief, ready to 
abide by his counsels ; a race profitable in peace, and 
loyal, available in war ; I say, his Grace, the present 
Duke of Sutherland, and his beautiful Duchess, would be 
without compeers in the British dominions, their rents, at 
least doubled ; would be as secure from invasion and 
annoyance in Dunrobin Castle as Queen Victoria could, or 
can be, in her Highland residence, at Balmoral, and far 
safer than she is in her Bnglish home, Buckingham 
Palace ; every man and son of Sutherland would be 
ready, as in the days of yore, to shed the last drop of their 
blood in defence of their chief, if required. Congratu- 
lations, rejoicings, dancing to the martial notes of the 
pipes, would meet them at tne entrance to every glen and 
strath in Sutherlandshire, accompanied, surrounded, and 
greeted, as they proceeded, by the most grateful, 
devotedly attached, happy, and bravest peasantry that 
ever existed ; yes, but alas ! where there is nothing now, 
but desolation and the cries of famine and want, to meet 
the noble pair the ruins of once comfortable dwellings 
will be seen the landmarks of the furrows and ridges 
which yielded food to thousands, the footprints of the 
arch-enemy of human happiness, and ravager before, 
after, and on each side, solitude, stillness, and the quiet 
of the grave, disturbed only at intervals by the yells of a 
shepherd, or fox-hunter, and the bark of a collie dog. 
Surely we must admit that the Marquises and Dukes of 
Sutherland have been duped and victimised to a most 
extraordinary and incredible extent ; and we have Mr. 
I/och's own words for it in his speech in the House of 
Commons, June 2ist, 1845 : " I can state, as from facts, 
that from 1811 to 1833, not one sixpence of rent has been 
received from that county ; but, on the contrary, there 
has been sent there for the benefit and improvement 
of the people a sum exceeding sixty thousand pounds 


sterling." Now think you of this immense wealth which 
has been expended. I am not certain, but I think the 
rental of the county would exceed 60,000 a year ; you 
have then from 1811 to 1833, twenty-two years, leaving 
them at the above figures, and the sum total will amount 
to 1,320,000 expended upon the self-styled Sutherland 
improvements ; add to this 60,000 sent down to pre- 
serve the lives of the victims of those improvements 
from death by famine, and the sum total will turn out 
in the shape of 1,380,000. It surely cost the heads of 
the house of Sutherland an immense sum of money to 
convert the county into the state I have described it in a 
former part of this work (and I challenge contradiction). 

You should be surprised to hear and learn, madam, 
for what purposes most of the money drained from the 
Duke's coffers yearly are expended since he became the 
Duke and proprietor of Sutherland, upholding the Loch 
policy. There are no fewer than seventeen who are 
known by the name of water bailiffs in the county, who 
receive yearly salaries, what doing, think you ? Protecting 
the operations of the Loch policy, watching day and night 
the freshwater lakes, rivers, and creeks, teeming with the 
finest salmon and trout fish in the world, guarding from 
the famishing people, even during the years of famine and 
dire distress, when many had to subsist upon weeds, sea- 
ware, and shell-fish, yet guarded and preserved for the 
amusement of English anglers * and what is still more 
heartrending, to prevent the dying by hunger to pick up 
any of the dead fish left by the sporting anglers rotting 
on the lake, creek, and river sides, when the smallest of 
them, or a morsel, would be considered by hundreds, I 
may say thousands, of the needy natives, a treat j but 
they durst not touch them, or if they did and were found 
out to jail they were conducted, or removed summarily 
from his Grace's domains ; (let me be understood, these 
gentlemen had no use for the fish, killing them for amuse- 
ment, only what they required for their own use, and com- 
plimented to the factors ; they were not permitted to 
cure them). 

You will find, madam, that about three miles from 


Dtmrobiii Castle there is a branch of the sea which extends 
up the county about six miles, where shell-fish, called 
mussels, abound. Here you will find two sturdy men, 
called mussel bailiffs, supplied with rifles and ammunition, 
and as many Newfoundland dogs as assistants, watching 
the mussel scalps, or beds, to preserve them from the 
people in the surrounding parishes of Dornoch, Rogart, and 
Golspie, and keep them, to supply the fishermen, on the 
opposite side of the Moray Firth, with bait, who come 
there every year and take away thousands of tons of this 
nutritive shell-fish, when many hundreds of the people 
would be thankful for a diet per day of them, to pacify 
the cravings of nature. You will find that the unfor- 
tunate native fishermen, who pay a yearly rent to his 
Grace for bait, are only permitted theirs from the refuse 
left by the strangers of the other side of the Moray Firth, 
and if they violate the iron rule laid down to them, they 
are entirely at the mercy of the underlings. There has 
been an instance of two of the fishermen's wives going 
on a cold, snowy, frosty day to gather bait, but on ac- 
count of the boisterous sea, could not reach the place 
appointed by the factors \ one took what they required 
from the forbidden ground, and was observed by some of 
the bailiffs, in ambush, who pursued them like tigers. 
One came up to her unobserved, took out his knife, and 
cut the straps by which the basket or creel on her back 
was suspended ; the weight on her back fell to the ground, 
and she, poor woman, big in the family way, fell her whole 
length forward in the snow and frost. Her companion 
turned round to see what had happened, when she was 
pushed back with such force that she fell ; he then tram- 
pled their baskets and mussels to atoms, took them both 
prisoners, ordered one of them to call his superior bailiff 
to assist him, and kept the other for two hours standing, 
wet as she was, among frost and snow, until the superior 
came a distance of three miles. After a short con- 
sultation upon the enormity of the crime, the two poor 
women were led, like convicted criminals, to Golspie, to 
appear before Lycurgus Gunn, and in that deplorable 
condition were left standing before their own doors in 



the snow, until Marshall Gunn found it convenient to 
appear and pronounce judgment, verdict : You are 
allowed to go into your houses this night ; this day week 
you must leave this village for ever, and the whole of the 
fishermen of the village are strictly prohibited from 
taking bait from the Little Ferry until you leave ; my 
bailiffs are requested to see this my decree strictly at- 
tended to. Being the middle of winter and heavy snow, 
they delayed a week longer : ultimately the villagers 
had to expel the two families from among them, so that 
they would get bait, having nothing to depend upon for 
subsistence but the fishing, and fish they could not 
without bait. This is a specimen of the injustice to and 
subjugation of the Golspie fishermen, and of the people 
at large ; likewise of the purposes for which the Duke's 
money is expended in that quarter. If you go, then, 
to the other side of the domain, you will find another 
Kyle, or a branch of the sea, which abounds in cockles 
and other shell-fish, fortunately for the poor people, not 
forbidden by a Loch ukase. But in the years of distress, 
when the people were principally living upon vegetables, 
sea-weeds, and shell-fish, various diseases made their 
appearance amongst them hitherto unknown. The 
absence of meal of any kind being considered the primary 
cause, some of the people thought they would be per- 
mitted to exchange shell-fish for meal with their more 
fortunate neighbours in Caithness, to whom such shell- 
fish were a rarity, and so far the understanding went 
between them, that the Caithness boats came up loaded 
with meal, but the Loch embargo, through his underling 
in Tongue, who was watching their movements, was at 
once placed upon it ', the Caithness boats had to return 
home with the meal, and the Duke's people might live or 
die, as they best could. Now, madam, you have steeped 
your brains, and ransacked the English language to find 
refined terms for your panegyric on the Duke, Duchess, 
and family of Sutherland. (I find no fault with you, 
knowing you have been well paid for it.) But I would 
briefly ask you (and others who devoted much of their 
time and talents in the same strain), would it not be more 


like a noble pair if they did merit such noble praise 
as you have bestowed upon them if they had, especially 
during years of famine and distress, freely opened up all 
these bountiful resources which God in His eternal 
wisdom and goodness prepared for His people, and which 
should never be intercepted nor restricted by man or men. 
You and others have composed hymns of praise, which it 
is questionable if there is a tune in heaven to sing them to. 

So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done 
under the sun : and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, 
and they had no comforter : and on the side of their oppressors 
there was power ; but they had no comforter. Bcclesiastes iv. i. 

The wretch that works and weeps without relief 

Has one that notices his silent grief. 

He, from whose hands all pow'r proceeds 

Ranks its abuse among the foulest deeds, 

Considers all injustice with a frown, 

But marks the man that treads his fellow down. 

Remember Heav'n has an avenging rod 

To smite the poor is treason against God. Cowper. 

But you shall find the Duke's money is expended for 
most astonishing purposes ; not a little of it goes to hire 
hypocrites, and renowned literary flatterers, to vindicate 
the mal- administration of those to whom he entrusted 
the management of his affairs, and make his Grace (who 
is by nature a simple-minded man) believe his servants 
are innocent of all the charges brought against them, 
and doing justice to himself and to his people, when they 
are doing the greatest injustice to both ; so that instead of 
calling his servants to account at any time, and enquiring 
into the broad charges brought against them as every 
wise landlord should do it seems the greater the enor- 
mities of foul deeds they commit, and the louder their 
accusations may sound through the land, the farther 
they are received into his favour. The fact is, that 
James Loch was Duke of Sutherland, and not the " tall, 
slender man with rather a thin face, light brown hair, 
and mild blue eyes," who armed you up the extraordinary 
elegant staircase in Stafford House. 

The Duchess of Sutherland pays a visit every year to 


Dunrobin Castle, and has seen and heard so many suppli- 
cating appeals presented to her husband by the poor 
fishermen of Golspie, soliciting liberty to take mussels 
from the Little Ferry Sands to bait their nets a liberty 
of which they were deprived by his factors, though paying 
yearly rent for it ; yet returned by his Grace with the 
brief deliverance, that he could do nothing for them. 
Can I believe that this is the same personage who can set 
out from Dunrobin Castle, her own Highland seat, and 
after travelling from it, then can ride in one direction 
over thirty miles, in another direction forty-four miles, in 
another, by taking the necessary circuitous route, sixty 
miles, and that over fertile glens, valleys, and straths, 
bursting with fatness, which gave birth to, and where were 
reared for ages, thousands of the bravest, the most moral, 
virtuous, and religious men that Europe could boast of ; 
ready to a man, at a moment's warning from their chiefs, 
to rise in defence of their king, queen, and country ; 
animated with patriotism and love to their chief, and 
irresistible in the battle contest for victory ? But these 
valiant men had then a country, a home, and a chief worth 
the fighting for. But I can tell her that she can now ride 
over these extensive tracts in the interior of the county 
without seeing the image of God upon a man travelling 
these roads, with the exception of a wandering Highland 
shepherd, wrapped up in a gre} T plaid to the eyes, with a 
collie dog behind him as a drill sergeant to train his ewes 
and to marshal his tups. There may happen to travel 
over the dreary tract a geologist, a tourist, or a lonely 
carrier, but these are as rare as a pelican in the wilderness, 
or a camel's convoy caravan in the deserts of Arabia. 
Add to this a few English sportsmen, with their stag 
hounds, pointer dogs, and servants, and put themselves 
and their bravery together, and one company of French 
soldiers would put ten thousand of them to a disorderly 
flight, to save their own carcases, leaving their ewes and 
tups to feed the invaders ! 

* ; The question may arise, where those people, who 
inhabited this country at one period, have gone ? 
In America and Australia the most of them will be 


found. The Sutherland family and the nation 'had 
no need of their services ; hence they did: nut . r,egar<J 
their patriotism or loyalty, and disregarded tii-eir -past 
services. Sheep, bullocks, deer, and game, became 
more valuable than men. Yet a remnant, or in 
other words a skeleton, of them is to be found along the 
sea shore, huddled together in motley groups upon barren 
moors, among cliffs and precipices, in the most impover- 
ished, degraded, subjugated, slavish, spiritless, condition 
that human beings could exist in. If this is really the 
lady who has " Glory to God in the highest, peace on 
earth, and good will to men," in view, and who is so 
religiously denouncing the American statute which 
" denies the slave the sanctity of marriage, with all its 
joys, rights, and obligations which separates, at the 
will of the master, the wife from the husband, the children 
from the parents," I would advise her in God's name to 
take a tour round the sea-skirts of Sutherland, her own 
estate, beginning at Brora, then to Helmsdale, Port- 
skerra, Strathy, Farr, Tongue, Durness, Eddrachillis, 
and Assynt, and learn the subjugated, degraded, impover- 
ished, uneducated condition of the spiritless people of 
that sea-beaten coast, about two hundred miles in length, 
and let her with similar zeal remonstrate with her hus- 
band, that their condition is bettered ; for the cure for 
all their misery and want is lying unmolested in the fertile 
valleys above, and all under his control ; and to advise 
his Grace, her husband, to be no longer guided by his 
Ahitophel, Mr. Loch, but to discontinue his depopulating 
schemes, which have separated many a wife from her 
husband, never to meet which caused many a premature 
death, and that separated many sons and daughters, 
never to see each other ; and by all means to withdraw 
that mandate of Mr. Loch, which forbids marriage on the 
Sutherland estate, under pains and penalties of being 
banished from the county ; for it has already augmented 
illegitimate connections and issues fifty per cent above 
what such were a few years ago before this unnatural, 
ungodly law was put in force. 

Let us see what the character of these ill-used people 


was ! General Stewart of Garth, in his " Sketches of the 
Highlands!" -says : :In the words of a general officer 
by 'whom the 93rd Sutherlanders were once reviewed, 
" They exhibit a perfect pattern of military discipline 
and moral rectitude. In the case of such men disgrace- 
ful punishment would be as unnecessary as it would be 
pernicious." "Indeed," says the General, ''so remote 
was the idea of such a measure in regard to them, that 
when punishments were to be inflicted on others, and the 
troops in garrison assembled to witness their execution, 
the presence of the Sutherland Highlanders was dis- 
pensed with, the effects of terror as a check to crime 
being in their case uncalled for, as examples of that 
nature were not necessary for such honourable soldiers. 
When the Sutherland Highlanders were stationed at the 
Cape of Good Hope anxious to enjoy the advantages of 
religious instruction agreeably to the tenets of their 
national church, and there being no religious service in 
the garrison except the customary one of reading prayers 
to the soldiers on parade, the Sutherland men 
formed themselves into a congregation, appointed 
elders of their own number, engaged and paid a 
stipend (collected among themselves) to a clergyman of 
the Church of Scotland, and had divine service performed 
agreeably to the ritual of the Established Church every 
Sabbath, and prayer meetings through the week." 
This reverend gentleman, Mr. Thorn, in a letter which 
appeared in the Christian Herald of October, 1814, 
writes thus : " When the Q3rd Highlanders left Cape 
Town last month, there were among them 156 members 
of the church, including three elders and three deacons, 
all of whom, so far as men can know the heart from the 
life, were pious men. The regiment was certainly a 
pattern of morality, and good behaviour to all other 
corps. They read their Bibles and observed the Sabbath. 
They saved their money to do good. 7000 rix dollars, 
a sum equal to 1200, the non-commissioned officers 
and privates saved for books, societies, and for the spread 
of the Gospel, a sum unparalleled in any other corps in 
the world, given in the short space of eighteen months. 


Their example had a general good effect on both the 
colonists and the heathen. If ever apostolic days were 
revived in modern times on earth, I certainly believe 
some of those to have been granted to us in Africa." 
Another letter of a similar kind, addressed to the Com- 
mittee of the Edinburgh Gaelic School Society (fourth 
annual report), says : " The 93rd Highlanders arrived 
in England, when they immediately received orders to 
proceed to North America ; but before they re-embarked 
the sum collected for your society was made up and re- 
mitted to your treasurer, amounting to seventy-eight 
pounds, sterling." " In addition to this," says the 
noble-minded, immortal General, " such of them as had 
parents and friends in Sutherland did not forget their 
destitute condition, occasioned by the operation of the 
fire and faggot, ?ms-improved state of the county." 
During the short period the regiment was quartered at 
Plymouth, upwards of 500 was lodged in one banking- 
house, to be remitted to Sutherland, exclusive of many 
sums sent through the Post Office and by officers ; some 
of the sums exceeding 20 from an individual soldier. 
Men like these do credit to the peasantry of a country. 
" It must appear strange, and somewhat inconsistent," 
continues the General, " when the same men who are so 
loud in their profession of an eager desire to promote and 
preserve the religious and moral virtues of the people, 
should so frequently take the lead in removing them from 
where they imbibed principles which have attracted the 
notice of Europe and of measures which lead to a de- 
terioration, placing families on patches of potato ground 
as in Ireland, a system pregnant with degradation, 
poverty, and disaffection." It is only when parents and 
heads of families in the Highlands are moral, happy, and 
contented, that they can instil sound principles into their 
children, who in their intercourse with the world may 
become what the men of Sutherland have already been, 
" an honourable example, worthy the imitation of all." 
I cannot help being grieved at my unavoidable 
abbreviation of these heart-stirring and heart-warming 
extracts, which should ornament every mantel-piece 


and library in the Highlands of Scotland ; but I could 
refer to other authors of similar weight ] among the 
last (though not the least), Mr. Hugh Millar of the Witness, 
in his " Sutherland as it was and is : or, How a country 
can be ruined " a work which should silence and put 
to shame every vile, malignant calumniator of Highland 
religion and moral virtue in bygone years, who in their 
sophistical profession of a desire to promote the temporal 
and spiritual welfare of the people, had their own sordid 
cupidity and aggrandisement in view in all their unworthy 

At the commencement of the Russian war a 
correspondent wrote as follows : " Your predictions 
are making their appearance at last, great demands 
are here for men to go to Russia, but they are not 
to be found. It seems that the Secretary of War 
has corresponded with all our Highland proprietors, to 
raise as many men as they could for the Crimean war, 
and ordered so many officers of rank to the Highlands to 
assist the proprietors in doing so but it has been a com- 
plete failure as yet. The nobles advertised, by placards, 
meetings of the people ; these proclamations were at- 
tended to, but when they came to understand what they 
were about, in most cases the recruiting proprietors 
and staff were saluted with the ominous cry of ' Maa ! 
maa ! boo ! boo ! ' imitating sheep and bullocks, and, 
' Send your deer, your roes, your rams, dogs, shepherds, 
and gamekeepers to fight the Russians, they have never 
done us any harm/ The success of his Grace the Duke of 
Sutherland was deplorable ; I believe you would have 
pitied the poor old man had you seen him. 

" In my last letter I told you that his head com- 
missioner, Mr. Loch, and military officer, was in Suther- 
land for the last six weeks, and failed in getting one man 
to enlist ; on getting these doleful tidings, the Duke him- 
self left London for Sutherland, arriving at Dunrobin 
about ten days ago, and after presenting himself upon the 
streets of Golspie and Brora, he called a meeting of the 
male inhabitants of the parishes of Clyne, Rogart, and 
Golspie ; the meeting was well attended ; upwards of 


400 were punctual at the hour ; his Grace in his carriage, 
with his military staff and factors appeared shortly after \ 
the people gave them a hearty cheer ; his Grace took the 
chair. Three or four clerks took their seats at the table, 
and loosened down bulky packages of bank notes, and 
spread out platefuls of glittering gold. The Duke ad- 
dressed the people very seriously, and entered upon the 
necessity of going to war with Russia, and the danger of 
allowing the Czar to have more power than what he holds 
already ; of his cruel, despotic reign in Russia, etc. ; 
likewise praising the Queen and her government, rulers 
and nobles of Great Britain, who stood so much in need 
of men to put and keep down the tyrant of Russia, and 
foil him in his wicked schemes to take possession of 
Turkey. In concluding his address, which was often 
cheered, the Duke told the young able-bodied men that 
his clerks were ready to take down the names of all those 
willing to enlist, and everyone who would enlist in the 
93rd Highlanders, that the clerk would give him, there 
and then, 6 sterling * those who would rather enter any 
other corps, would get 3, all from his own private purse, 
independently of the government bounty. After ad- 
vancing many silly flattering decoyments, he sat down to 
see the result, but there was no movement among the 
people ; after sitting for a long time looking at the clerks, 
and they at him, at last his anxious looks at the people 
assumed a somewhat indignant appearance, when he 
suddenly rose up and asked what was the cause of their 
non-attention to the proposals he made, but no reply ; 
it was the silence of the grave. Still standing, his Grace 
suddenly asked the cause ; but no reply ; at last an old 
man, leaning upon his staff, was observed moving towards 
the Duke, and when he approached near enough, he 
addressed his Grace something as follows : "I am sorry 
for the response your Grace's proposals are meeting here 
to-day, so near the spot where your maternal grandmother, 
by giving forty-eight hours' notice, marshalled fifteen 
hundred men to pick out of them the nine hundred she 
required, but there is a cause for it, and a grievous cause, 
and as your Grace demands to know it, I must tell you, 


as I see no one else are inclined in this assembly to do it. 
Your Grace's mother and predecessors applied to our 
fathers^ for men upon former occasions, and our fathers 
responded to their call ; they have made liberal promises, 
which neither them nor you performed ; we are, we think, 
a little wiser than our fathers, and we estimate your pro- 
mises of to-day at the value of theirs, besides you should 
bear in mind that your predecessors and yourself expelled 
us in a most cruel and unjust manner from the land which 
our fathers held in lien from your family, for their sons, 
brothers, cousins, and relations, which were handed over 
to your parents to keep up their dignity, and to kill 
the Americans, Turks, French, and the Irish ; and these 
lands are devoted now to rear dumb brute animals, which 
you and your parents consider of far more value thanmen. 
I do assure your Grace that it is the prevailing opinion 
n this county, that should the Czar of Russia take pos- 
session of Dunrobin Castle and of Stafford House next 
term, that we could not expect worse treatment at his 
hands, than we have experienced at the hands of your 
family for the last fifty years. Your parents, yourself, 
and your commissioners, have desolated the glens and 
straths of Sutherland, where you should find hundreds, 
yea, thousands of men to meet you, and respond cheer- 
fully to y2ur call, had your parents and yourself kept faith 
with them. How could 3^our Grace expect to find men 
where they are not, and the few of them which are to be 
found among the rubbish or ruins of the county, has more 
sense than to be decoyed by chaff to the field of slaughter ; 
but one comfort you have, though you cannot find men to 
fight, you can supply those who will fight with plenty of 
mutton, beef, and venison.' The Duke rose up, put on 
his hat, and left the field." 

Whether my correspondent added to the old man's 
reply to his Grace or not, I cannot say, but one thing is 
evident, it was the very reply his Grace deserved. 

I know for a certainty this to be the prevailing feeling 
throughout the whole Highlands of Scotland, and who 
should wonder at it ? How many thousands of them who 
served out their 21, 22, 25, and 26 years, fighting for the 


British aristocracy, and on their return wounded, 
maimed, or worn out to their own country, promising 
themselves to spend the remainder of their days in peace, 
and enjoying the blessings and comfort their fathers 
enjoyed among their Highland, healthy, delightful hills, 
but found to their grief, that their parents were expelled 
from the country to make room for sheep, deer, and game, 
the glens where they were born, desolate, and the abodes 
which sheltered them at birth, and where they were 
reared to manhood, burnt to the ground ; and instead 
of meeting the cheers, shaking-hands, hospitality, and 
affections of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and re- 
lations, met with desolated glens, bleating of sheep, bark- 
ing of dogs ; and if they should happen to rest their 
worn-out frame upon the green sod which has grown upon 
their father's hearth, and a gamekeeper, factor, or water 
bailiff, to come round, he would very unceremoniously 
tell them to absent themselves as smart as they could, 
and not to annoy the deer. No race on record has suffered 
so much at the hands of those who should be their patrons, 
and proved to be so tenacious of patriotism as the Celtic 
race, but I assure you it has found its level now, and will 
disappear soon altogether ; and as soon as patriotism 
shall disappear in any nation, so sure that nation's glory is 
tarnished, victories uncertain, her greatness diminished, 
and decaying consumptive death will be the result. If 
ever the old adage, which says, " Those whom the gods 
determine to destroy, they first deprive them of reason," 
was verified, it was, and is, in the case of the British 
aristocracy, and Highland proprietors in particular. I 
am not so void of feeling as to blame the Duke of Suther- 
land, his parents, or any other Highland absentee pro- 
prietor for all the evil done in the land, but the evil was 
done in their name, and under the authority they have 
invested in wicked, cruel servants. For instance, the 
only silly man who enlisted from among the great assem- 
bly which his Grace addressed, was a married man, with 
three of a family and his wife ; it was generally believed 
that his bread was baked for life, but no sooner was he 
away to Fort George to join his regiment, than his place 


of abode was pulled down, his wife and family turned out, 
and only permitted to live in a hut, from which an old 
female pauper was carried a few days before to the 
churchyard ; there the young family were sheltered, 
and their names registered upon the poor roll for support ; 
his Grace could not be guilty of such low rascality as this, 
yet he was told of it, but took no cognisance of those who 
did it in his name. It is likewise said that this man got a 
furlough of two weeks to see his wife and family before 
going abroad, and that when the factor heard he was 
coming, he ordered the ground officer of the parish of 
Rogart, named MacLeod, to watch the soldier, and not 
allow him to see nor speak to his wife, but in his (the 
officer's) presence. We had at the same time, in the 
parish, an old bachelor of the name of John Macdonald, 
who had three idiot sisters, whom he upheld, independent 
of any source of relief ; but a favourite of George, the 
notorious factor, envied this poor bachelor's farm, and 
he was summoned to remove at next term. The poor 
fellow petitioned his Grace and Loch, but to no purpose \ 
he was doomed to walk away on the term day, as the 
factor told him, " to America, Glasgow, or to the devil if 
he choosed." Seeing he had no other alternative, two 
days before the day of his removal he yoked his cart, 
and got neighbours to help him to haul the three idiots 
into it, and drove away with them to Dunrobin Castle. 
When he came up to factor Gunn's door, he capsized 
them out upon the green, and wheeled about and went 
away home. The three idiots rinding themselves upon 
the top of one another so sudden, they raised an inhuman- 
like yell, fixed into one another to fight, and scratched, 
yelled, and screeched so terrific that Mr. Gunn, his lady, 
his daughters, and all the clerks and servants were soon 
about them ; but they hearkened to no reason, for they 
had none themselves, but continued their fighting and 
inharmonious music. Messenger after messenger was 
sent after John, but of no use ; at last the great Gunn 
himself followed and overtook him, asked him how did 
he come to leave his sisters in such a state ? He replied, 
" I kept them while I had a piece of land to support 


them ; you have taken that land from me, then take them 
along with the land, and make of them what you can ; I 
must look out for myself, but I cannot carry them to the 
labour market." Gunn was in a fix, and had to give 
John assurance that he would not be removed if he would 
take his sisters, so John took them home, and has not been 
molested as yet. 

I have here beside me (in Canada) a respectable girl 
of the name of Ann Murray, whose father was removed 
during the time of the wholesale faggot removals, but got a 
lot of a barren moor to cultivate. However barren-like it 
was, he was raising a family of industrious young sons, 
and by dint of hard labour and perseverance, they made 
it a comfortable home \ but the young sons one by one 
left the country (and four of them are within two miles 
of where I sit) \ the result was, that Ann was the only one 
who remained with the parents. The mother, who had 
an attack of palsy, was left entirely under Ann's care 
after the family left ; and she took it so much to heart 
that her daughter's attention was required day and 
night, until death put an end to her afflictions, after 
twelve years' suffering. Shortly after the mother's 
death, the father took ill, and was confined to bed for 
nine months ; and Ann's labour re-commenced until his 
decease. Though Ann Murray could be numbered among 
the most dutiful of daughters, yet her incessant labour, 
for a period of more than thirteen years, made visible 
i nroads upon her tender constitution ; yet by the liberal 
assistance of her brothers, who did not loose sight of her 
and their parent (though upon a foreign strand), Ann 
Murray kept the farm in the best of order, no doubt 
expecting that she would be allowed to keep it after her 
parent's decease, but this was not in store for her ; the 
very day after her father's funeral, the officer came to her 
and told her that she was to be removed in a few weeks, 
that the farm was let to another, and that Factor Gunn 
wished to see her. She was at that time afflicted with 
jaundice, and told the officer she could not undertake the 
journey, which was only ten miles. Next day the officer 
was at her again, more urgent than before, and made use 


of extraordinary threats ; so she had to go. When she 
appeared before this Bashaw, he swore like a trooper, and 
damned her soul, why she disobeyed his first summons ; 
she excused herself, trembling, that she was unwell ; 
another volley of oaths and threats met her response, and 
told her to remove herself from the estate next week, for 
her conduct ; and with a threat, which well becomes a 
Highland tyrant, not to take away, nor sell a single 
article of furniture, implements of husbandry, cattle, or 
crop ; nothing was allowed but her own body clothes ; 
everything was to be handed over to her brother, who was 
to have the farm. Seeing there was neither mercy nor 
justice for her, she told him the crop, house, and every 
other thing belonging to the farm, belonged to her and her 
brothers in America, and that the brother to whom he 
(the factor) intended to hand over the farm and effects 
never helped her father or mother while in trouble ; and 
that she was determined that he should not enjoy what 
she laboured for, and what her other brothers paid for. 
She went and got the advice of a man of business, adver- 
tised a sale, and sold off, in the face of threats of interdict, 
and came to Canada, where she was warmly received by 
brothers, sisters, and friends, now in Woodstock, and can 
tell her tale better than I can. No one could think nor 
believe that his Grace would ever countenance such doings 
as these * but it was done in his name. 

I have here within ten miles of me, Mr. William Ross, 
once taxman of Achtomleeny, Sutherlandshire, who oc- 
cupied the most convenient farm to the principal deer- 
stalking hills in the county. Often have the English 
and Irish lords, connected in marriage with the Suther- 
lands, dined and took their lunch at William Ross's table, 
and at his expense ; and more than once passed the night 
under his roof. Mr. Ross being so well acquainted 
among the mountains and haunts of the deer, was often 
engaged as a guide and instructor to these noblemen on 
their deer-stalking and fishing excursions, and became a 
real favourite with the Sutherland family, which enabled 
him to erect superior buildings to the common rule, and 
improve his farm in a superior style ; so that his moun- 


tain-side farm was nothing short of a Highland paradise. 
But unfortunately for William, his nearest neighbour, one 
Major Gilchrist, a sheep farmer, coveted Mr. Ross's 
vineyard, and tried many underhand schemes to secure 
the place for himself, but in vain. Ross would hearken 
to none of his proposals. But Ahab was a chief friend of 
Factor Gunn ; and William Ross got notice of removal. 
Ross prepared a memorial to the first and late Duchess of 
Sutherland, and placed it in her own hand. Her Grace 
read it, instantly went into the factor's office, and told 
him that William Ross was not to be removed from Ach- 
tomleeny while he lived * and wrote the same on the 
petition, and handed it back to Ross, with a graceful 
smile, saying ," You are now out of the reach of factors * 
now, William, go home in peace." William bowed, and 
departed cheerfully ; but the factor and ground-officer 
followed close behind him, and while Ross was reading her 
Grace's deliverance, the officer, David Ross, came and 
snapped the paper out of his hand, and ran to Factor 
Gunn with it. Ross followed, but Gunn put it in his 
pocket, saying, " William, you would need to give it to 
me afterwards, at any rate, and I will keep it till I read 
it, and then return it to you," and with a tiger-like smile 
on his face, said, " I believe you came good speed to-day, 
and I am glad of it ; " but William never got it in his hand 
again. However, he was not molested during her Grace's 
life. Next year she paid a visit to Dunrobin Castle, when 
Factor William Gunn advised Ross to apply to her for a 
reduction of rent, under the mask of favouring him. He 
did so, and it was granted cheerfully. Her Grace left 
Dunrobin that year never to return ; in the beginning of 
the next spring she was carried back to Dunrobin a 
corpse, and a few days after was interred in Dornoch. 
William Ross was served with a summons of removal 
from Achtomleeny, and he had nothing to show. He 
petitioned the present Duke, and his commissioner, Mr. 
Loch, and related the whole circumstances to them, but 
to no avail, only he was told that Factor Gunn was 
ordered to give him some other lot of land, which he did : 
and having no other resource, William accepted of it to 


his loss ; for between loss of cattle, building and repairing 
houses, he was minus one hundred and fifty pounds ster- 
ling, of his means, and substance, from the time he was 
removed from Achtomleeny till he removed himself to 
Canada. Besides, he had a written agreement or pro- 
mise for melioration or valuation for all the farm improve- 
ments and house building at Achtomleeny, which was 
valued by the family surveyor at 250. William was 
always promised to get it, until they came to learn that 
he was leaving for America, then they would not give him 
a cent. William Ross left them with it to join his family 
in Canada \ but he can in his old age sit at as comfortable 
a table, and sleep on as comfortable a bed, with greater 
ease of mind and a clearer conscience, among his own 
dutiful and affectionate children, than the tyrant factor 
ever did, or ever will among his. I know as well as any 
one can tell me, that this is but one or two cases out of 
the thousand I could enumerate, where the liberality 
and benevolence of his Grace, and of his parents, were 
abused, and that to their patron's loss. You see in the 
above case that William was advised to plead for a 
reduction of rent, so that the factor's favourite, Ahab 
Gilchrist, would have the benefit of Naboth Ross's im- 
provement, and the reduction he got on his rent, which 
would not be obtained otherwise. 

The unhallowed crew of factors and officials, from the 
highest to the lowest grade, employed by the family of 
Sutherland, got the corrupt portion of the public press on 
their side, to applaud their wicked doings and schemes, as 
the only mode of improvement and civilisation in the 
Highlands of Scotland. They have got what is still more 
to be lamented, all the Established ministers, with few 
exceptions, on their side ; and in them they found faithful 
auxiliaries in crushing the people. Any of them could 
hold a whole congregation by the hair of their heads 
over hell-fire, if they offered to resist the powers that be, 
until they submitted. If a single individual resisted, he 
was denounced from the pulpit, and considered after- 
wards a dangerous man in the community \ and he might 
depart as quick as he could. Any man, or men, may 


violate the laws of God, and violate the laws of heaven, 
as often as he chooses ; he is never heeded, and has noth- 
ing to fear ; but if he offends the Duke's factor, the lowest 
of his minions, or violates the least of their laws and regu- 
lations, it is an unpardonable sin. The present Duke's 
mother was no doubt a liberal lady of many good parts, 
and seemed to be much attached to the natives, but un- 
fortunately for them, she employed for her factors a vile, 
unprincipled crew, who were their avowed enemies j 
she would hearken to the complaints of the people, and 
would write to the ministers of the Gospel to ascertain the 
correctness of complaints, and the factor was justified, 
however gross the outrage was that he committed the 
minister dined with the factor, and could not refuse to 
favour him. The present Duke* is a simple, narrow- 
minded gentleman, who concerns himself very little 
even about his own pecuniary affairs * he entrusts his 
whole affairs to his factors, and the people are enslaved 
so much, that it is now considered the most foolish thing 
a man can do to petition his Grace, whatever is done to 
him, for it will go hard with the factor, or he will punish 
and make an example of him to deter others. 

To detail what I knew myself personally, and what I 
have learned from others of their conduct, would, as I 
said before, fill a volume. For instance : When a 
marriage in the family of Sutherland takes place, or the 
birth of an heir, a feast is ordered for the Sutherland 
people, consisting of whisky, porter, ale, and plenty of 
eatables. The day of feasting and rejoicing is appointed, 
and heralded throughout the country, and the people are 
enjoined in marshal terms to assemble barrels of raw 
and adulterated whisky are forwarded to each parish, 
some raw adulterated sugar, and that is all. Bonfires are 
to be prepared on the tops of the highest mountains. The 
poorest of the poor are warned by family officers to carry 
the materials, consisting of peats and tar barrels, upon 
their backs ; the scene is lamentable to see groups of these 
wretched, half-clad and ill-shod, climbing up these 

* Macleod wrote this in 1854. ED. 



mountains with their loads ; however, the work must be 
done, there is no denial, the evening of rejoicing is arrived, 
and the people are assembled at their different clachans. 
The barrels of whisky are taken out to the open field, 
poured into large tubs, a good amount of abominable- 
looking sugar is mixed with it, and a sturdy favourite 
is employed to stir it about with a flail handle, or some 
long cudgel all sorts of drinking implements are pro- 
duced, tumblers, bowls, ladles, and tin jugs. Bagpipers 
are set up with great glee. In the absence of the factor, 
the animal called the ground officer, and in some instances 
the parish minister, will open the jollification, and show 
an example to the people how to deal with this coarse 
beverage. After the first round, the respectable portion 
of the people will depart, or retire to an inn, where they 
can enjoy themselves ' but the drouthies, and ignorant 
youthful, will keep the field of revelling until tearing of 
clothes and faces comes to be the rule * fists and cudgels 
supplant jugs and ladles, and this will continue until king 
Bacchus enters the field and hushes the most heroic 
brawlers and the most ferocious combatants to sound 
snoring on the field of rejoicing, where many of them 
enter into contracts with death, from which they could 
never extricate themselves. With the co-operation and 
assistance of factors, ministers, and editors, a most 
flourishing account is sent to the world, and to the 
absentee family in London, who knows nothing about how 
the affair was conducted. The world will say how happy 
must the people be who live under such good and noble, 
liberal-minded patrons ; and the patrons themselves are 
so highly-pleased with the report that, however extra- 
ordinary the bill that comes to them on the rent day, in 
place of money, for roast beef and mutton, bread and 
cheese, London porter and Edinburgh ale, which was 
never bought, nor tasted by the people, they will consider 
their commissioners used great economy \ no cognizance 
is taken, the bill is accepted, and discharged, the people 
are deceived, and the proprietors injured. 


For his action in connection with the Sutherland 
Clearances, Patrick Sellar was placed on trial at a sitting 
of the Circuit Court at Inverness in 1816. The bench 
was occupied by L,ord Pitmilly. We give the indictment, 
defences, judge's summing up, and other particulars, 
but omit the evidence., as no authentic record thereof is 


PATRICK SEUvAR, now or lately residing at Culmaily, 
A in the parish of Golspie, and shire of Sutherland, 
and under factor for the Most Noble the Marquis 
and Marchioness of Stafford. You are indicted and 
accused, at the instance of Archibald Colquhoun of Killer- 
mont, his Majesty's Advocate for his Majesty's interest : 
That albeit, by the laws of this and of every other well- 
governed realm, culpable homicide, as also oppression and 
real injury, more particularly the wickedly and 
maliciously setting on fire and burning, or causing and 
procuring to be set on fire and burnt, a great extent of 
heath and pasture, on which a number of small tenants 
and other poor persons maintain their cattle, to the 
great injury and distress of the said persons; the violently 
turning, or causing and procuring to be turned out of 
their habitations, a number of the said tenants and other 
poor people, especially aged, infirm, and impotent persons 
and pregnant women, and cruelly depriving them of all 
cover or shelter, to their great distress, and the im- 
minent danger of their lives ; the wickedly and 
maliciously setting on fire, burning, pulling down, and 
demolishing, or causing and procuring to be set on fire, 
burnt, pulled down, and demolishing, the dwelling- 
houses, barns, kilns, mills, and other buildings, lawfully 

* See Note A in Appendices. 



occupied by the said persons, whereby they themselves 
are turned out, without cover or shelter, as aforesaid, 
and the greater part of their different crops is lost and 
destroyed, from the want of the usual and necessary ac- 
commodation for securing and manufacturing the same ; 
and the wantonly setting on fire, burning, and otherwise 
destroying, or causing and procuring to be set on fire, 
burnt, and otherwise destroyed, growing corn, timber, 
furniture, money, and other effects, the property, or in the 
lawful possession of the said tenants and other poor 
persons, are crimes of a heinous nature, and severely 
punishable. Yet true it is, and of verity, that you the 
said Patrick Sellar are guilty of the said crimes, or of one 
or more of them, actor, or art in part ; in so far as you 
the said Patrick Sellar did, on the I5th day of March, 
1814, or on one or other of the days of that month, or of 
April and May immediately following, and on many occa- 
sions during the said months of March, April and May, 
wickedly and maliciously set on fire and burn, or cause 
and procure John Dry den and John M'Kay, both at that 
time shepherds in your service, to set on fire and burn a 
great extent of heath and pasture, many miles in length 
and breadth, situate in the heights of the parishes of Farr 
and Kildonan, in the county of Sutherland, and in parti- 
cular in the lands of Ravigill, Rhiphail, Rhiloisk, Rossal, 
Rhimsdale, Garvault, Truderskaig, and Dalcharrel, 
whereby many of the tenants and others in the lands 
aforesaid were deprived of pasturage for their cattle, and 
in consequence thereof reduced to great distress and pov- 
erty ; and many of them were obliged to feed their cattle 
with the potatoes intended for the use of their families, 
and with their seed corn J particularly William Gordon, 
James M'Kay, Hugh Grant, and Donald M'Kay, all then 
tenants in Rhiloisk aforesaid \ John Gordon and Hugh 
M'Beath, then tenants in Rhimsdale aforesaid ; Donald 
M'Beath, then tenant in Rhiphail aforesaid ; Murdo 
M'Kay and John M'Kay, then tenants in Truderskaig 
aforesaid. And further, you the said Patrick Sellar did, 
upon the 13th day of June, 1814, or on one or other of the 
days of that month, or of May immediately preceding, 


or of July immediately following, together with four or 
more persons, your assistants, proceed to the district of 
country above-mentioned, and did, then and there, 
violently turn, or cause or procure to be turned out of 
their habitations, a number of the tenants and poor 
people dwelling there ; and particularly Donald M'Kay, 
a feeble old man of the age of four-score years or thereby, 
then residing in Rhiloisk aforesaid ; who, upon being so 
turned out, not being able to travel to the nearest in- 
habited place, lay for several days and nights thereafter 
in the woods in the vicinity, without cover or shelter, to 
his great distress, and to the danger of his life. As also, 
Barbara M'Kay, wife of John M'Kay, then tenant in 
Ravigill aforesaid, who was at the time pregnant, and was 
moreover confined to her bed in consequence of being 
severely hurt and bruised by a fall ; and you the said 
Patrick Sellar did, then and there, notwithstanding the 
entreaties of the said John M'Kay, give orders that the 
said Barbara M'Kay should be instantly turned out, 
whatever the consequences might be, saying, That you 
would have the house pulled about her ears ; and the 
said John M'Kay was accordingly compelled, with the 
assistance of some women and neighbours to lift his said 
wife from her bed, and carry her nearly a mile across the 
country to the imminent danger of her life : As also, 
time last above-mentioned, you the said Patrick Sellar 
did forcibly turn out, or cause and procure your assistants 
aforesaid, to turn out, of his bed and dwelling, in Gar- 
vault aforesaid, Donald Munro, a young lad, who lay sick 
in bed at the time. And further, you the said Patrick 
Sellar, did time aforesaid, wickedly and maliciously set on 
fire, burn, pull down, and demolish, or cause and procure 
your assistants aforesaid to set on fire, burn, pull down, 
and demolish a great number of the dwelling-houses, 
barns, kilns, mills, and other buildings, lawfully occupied 
by the tenants and other inhabitants in the said district 
of country ; and in particular, the houses, barns, kilns, 
mills, lawfully occupied by the above-mentioned William 
Gordon, James M'Kay, Hugh Grant, in Rhiloisk afore- 
said ; and John Gordon in Rhimsdale aforesaid ; As 


also, the barns and kilns in Rhiphail aforesaid, lawfully 
occupied by Alexander Manson, John M'Kay, and others, 
then tenants or residenters there ; the barns and kilns 
in Ravigill aforesaid, lawfully occupied by John M'Kay, 
Murdo M'Kay, and others, then tenants there * and the 
barns and kilns in Garvault aforesaid, lawfully occupied 
by William Nicol and John Monro, then tenants there * 
As also, the house and barn in Ravigill aforesaid, law- 
fully occupied by Barbara M'Kay, an infirm old widow, 
nearly fourscore years of age, and who was obliged to 
sell three of her five cattle at an under value, in order to 
support herself, her crop being destroyed from the want 
of her barn : As also, the greater part of the houses, 
barns, kilns, mills, and other buildings in the whole dis- 
trict of country above mentioned, was, time aforesaid, 
maliciously set on fire, burnt, pulled down, and de- 
molished, by you, the said Patrick Sellar, or by your 
assistance or by your orders, whereby the inhabitants 
and lawful occupiers thereof were turned out, without 
cover or shelter ; and the greater part of their different 
crops was lost and destroyed from want of the usual and 
necessary accommodation for securing and manufacturing 
the same ; and especially the lawful occupiers of the 
barns, kilns, mills, and other buildings particularly 
above mentioned, to have been set on fire and destroyed 
as aforesaid, did sustain great loss in their crops, from 
being thus deprived of the means of securing and manu- 
facturing the same. And further, you, the said Patrick 
Sellar, did, time aforesaid, culpably kill Donald M'Beath, 
father to Hugh M'Beath, then tenant in Rhimsdale 
aforesaid, by unroofing and pulling down, or causing to 
be unroofed and pulled down, the whole house in Rhims- 
dale aforesaid, where the said Donald M'Beath was then 
lying on his sick bed, saving only a small space of roof, 
to the extent of five or six yards, whereby the said Donald 
M'Beath was exposed, in a cold and comfortless situation, 
without cover or shelter, to the weather ; and he, the said 
Donald M'Beath, in consequence of being so exposed, 
never spoke a word more, but languished and died about 
eight days_thereafter, and was thereby culpably killed 


by you, the said Patrick Sellar : Or otherwise, you, the 
said Patrick Sellar, did, time and place aforesaid, cruelly 
expose the said Donald M'Beath to the weather, without 
cover or shelter, by pulling down and unroofing, or caused 
to be pulled down and unroofed, the greater part of the 
house where he then lay sick in bed, to his great distress, 
and the imminent danger of his life ; and this you, the 
said Patrick Sellar, did, notwithstanding the entreaties 
of the said Hugh M'Beath, and others, you saying, in a 
rage, when it was proposed that the said Donald M'Beath 
should remain, " The devil a man of them, sick or well, 
shall be permitted to remain," or words to that effect. 
And further, you, the said Patrick Sellar, did, time afore- 
said, wickedly and maliciously set on fire, burn, and de- 
molish, or cause and procure your assitants to set on fire, 
burn, and demolish, the dwelling-house, barn, kiln, sheep- 
cot, and other building then lawfully occupied by William 
Chisholm in Badinloskin, in the parish of Farr aforesaid, 
although you knew that Margaret M'Kay, a very old 
woman of the age of 90 years, less or more, and who had 
been bed-ridden for years, was at that time within the 
said house ; and this you did, notwithstanding you were 
told that the said old woman could not be removed with- 
out imminent danger to her life ; and the flames having 
approached the bed whereon the said Margaret M'Kay 
lay, she shrieked aloud in Gaelic, " O'n teine," that is to 
say, " O the fire," or words to that effect ; and was forth- 
with carried out by her daughter, Janet M'Kay, and 
placed in a small bothy, and the blanket in which she 
was wrapped was burnt in several places, and the said 
Margaret M'Kay never spoke a word thereafter, but 
remained insensible from that hour, and died in about 
five days thereafter, in consequence of the fright and 
alarm * and, in particular, in consequence of her re- 
moval, as aforesaid, from her bed into a cold and uncom- 
fortable place, unfit for the habitation of any human 
being ; and the said Margaret M'Kay was thereby culp- 
ably killed by you, the said Patrick Sellar ; or otherwise, 
you, the said Patrick Sellar, did, time and place aforesaid, 
cruelly turn, or cause to be turned, out of her bed and 


dwelling-place, the said Margaret Mackay, by setting on 
fire, burning, and demolishing, or causing and procuring 
to be set on fire, burnt, and demolished, the said house and 
other buildings, in manner above mentioned, to her great 
distress, and the imminent danger of her life. And far- 
ther, all the persons whose houses, barns, kilns, mills, 
and other buildings, were burnt and destroyed, or caused 
and procured to be burnt and destroyed by you, the said 
Patrick Sellar, all as above described, did sustain great 
loss in their moss wood, and other timber, which was 
broken and demolished, and destroyed by fire and other- 
wise, at the same time, and in the same manner, with the 
buildings as aforesaid ; and also in their furniture and 
other effects, all their lawful property, or in their lawful 
possession at the time : And, in particular, the said 
Barbara M'Kay in Ravigill, aforesaid, lost her door and 
door-posts, and timber of her house and barn, her meal- 
chest, and several articles of furniture, all her property, 
or in her lawful possession, which were then and there 
destroyed, or caused to be destroyed, by you, the said 
Patrick Sellar, as aforesaid * and the greatest part of the 
furniture, and timber belonging to the said William 
Chisholm, together with three pounds in bank notes, and 
a ridge of growing corn, all the property, or in the lawful 
possession of the said William Chisholm, in Badinloskin, 
aforesaid, were then and there destroyed by fire, and 
otherwise, by you, the said Patrick Sellar. And you, the 
said Patrick Sellar, having been apprehended and taken 
before Mr. Robert Mackid, Sheriff-Substitute of Suther- 
land, did, in his presence, at Dornoch, on the 3ist day of 
May, 1815, emit and subscribe a declaration ; which 
declaration, together with a paper entitled " Notice 
given to the Strathnaver tenants, 15 Dec., 1813," being 
to be used in evidence against you, at your trial, will be 
lodged in due time in the hands of the Clerk of the Circuit 
Court of Justiciary, before which you are to be tried, that 
you may have an opportunity of seeing the same : at 
least, time and places above-mentioned, the said heath 
and pasture, was wickedly and maliciously set on fire 
and burnt, or caused and procured to be set on fire and 


burnt, to the great injury and distress of the said tenants 
and others ; and the said persons were violently turned, 
or caused and procured to be turned, out of their habita- 
tions, and deprived of all cover and shelter, to their great 
distress, and the imminent danger of their lives ; and the 
said Donald M'Beath and Margaret M'Kay were culpably 
killed in manner above mentioned, or were cruelly turned 
out of their habitations as aforesaid ] and the said 
dwelling-houses, barns, kilns, mills, and other buildings, 
lawfully inhabited and occupied by the said persons, were 
maliciously set on fire, burnt, pulled down, and demo- 
lished, or were caused and procured to be set on fire, 
burnt, pulled down, and demolished, and the inhabitants 
and lawful occupiers thereof turned out as aforesaid ; 
and the greater part of their different crops was lost or 
destroyed, from want of the usual and necessary accom- 
modation for securing and manufacturing the same ; 
and the growing corn, timber, furniture, money, and other 
effects, the property,- or in the lawful possession, of the 
said persons, were wantonly set on fire, burnt, and other- 
wise destroyed or caused and procured to be set on fire, 
burnt, and otherwise destroyed : And you, the said 
Patrick Sellar, are guilty of the said crimes, or of one 
or more of them, actor, or art and part. All which, or 
part thereof, being found proven by the verdict of an 
assize, before the Lord Justice-General, the Lord Justice- 
Clerk, and Lords Commissioners of Justiciary, in a Cir- 
cuit Court of Justiciary to be holden by them, or by any 
one or more of their number, within the burgh of Inver- 
ness, in the month of April, in this present year, 1816, 
you, the said Patrick Sellar, ought to be punished with the 
pains of law, to deter others from committing the like 
crimes in all time coming. 


Mr Sellar, having pleaded NOT GUILTY, the following 
defences were read : " First, The panel objects to the 
relevancy of various parts of the libel. Second, In so 
far as the libel is relevant, the panel denies its truth ; the 


whole of the charges are utterly false, in so much so, that 
the Prosecutor is not only unable to bring any sufficient 
evidence in support of his own accusations, but the panel 
will bring positive proof against them. The panel will 
prove, that the ejectments which have given rise to this 
trial, were done in due order of law, and, under the war- 
rants of the proper Judge, issued on regular process. 
Farther, he will prove that great indulgence was shown 
to the tenants, even after they had resisted the regular 
decrees of the Judge ; that nothing was done on his part, 
or with his knowledge or approval, either cruel, oppres- 
sive or illegal. That he committed no acts of homicide ; 
and, on the whole, he will prove, that throughout every 
part of this affair, he (the panel) has been the victim, not 
only of the most unfounded local prejudices, but of long 
continued and active defamation, on the part of certain 
persons, who have made it their business to traduce the 
whole system of improvements introduced into the Suther- 
land estate, and to vilify the panel, by whom, they have 
been pleased to suppose, that these improvements have 
been partly conducted. He rejoices, however, in the first 
opportunity, which has now been afforded to him, of 
meeting these calumnies and prepossessions in a Court of 
Justice, and relying, as he does, with implicit confidence 
on the candour and dispassionate attention of a British 
jury, he has no doubt whatever of being able to establish 
his complete innocence of all the charges now brought 
against him. 

" Under protestation to add and eik. 


Mr. Robertson opened the case on the part of the panel. 
The object of addressing the court at this time was to 
state such observations as occurred on the relevancy of 
the indictment, and to give a general view of the line of 
defence. On the former, he remarked, that various ob- 
jections did occur to the relevancy of the charges, par- 


ticularly to the second and fourth branches of the indict- 
ment. With these, however, he did not mean to trouble 
the Court, as Mr. Sellar was so conscious of his innocence, 
that he courted investigation, being unwilling that any 
part of his conduct should be left uninvestigated. No 
objection was, therefore, made to the relevancy of any 
part of the indictment, so far as it charged any specific 
crime against which the panel might be prepared to de- 
fend himself. But, certainly, he did object to those 
parts of it which contained general charges, of destroying 
" a number of houses," injuring " a number of tenants," 
&c., unless these were understood merely as introductory 
to the specific crimes mentioned. He also objected 
to the last charge, if meant as anything more than 
matter of mere aggravation. 

On the merits, he gave a short sketch of the causes 
which gave rise to the present trial, alluded to the clam- 
our which had been raised in the country the prejudices 
of the people, the disgraceful publications in a news- 
paper called the Military Register, and the pains which 
had been taken to circulate these false and mischievous 
papers through Sutherland and the adjacent counties. 
The general line of defence he stated to be, That, as to the 
first charge, of heath-burning, this was done with the 
express consent of the tenantry, and, as could be proved, 
to their positive advantage. As to the removings, the 
defence was quite clear. The lands mentioned in the 
indictment were advertised to be set on the 5th of Decem- 
ber, 1813, at the Inn of Golspie, and Mr. Sellar was pre- 
ferred as the highest offerer. Before Whitsunday, 1814, 
he brought regular actions of removing, and it was not 
until after he had obtained decrees in these actions, 
charged the whole of the tenants to remove, and taken out 
precepts of ejection against them, that they were, in the 
month of June, actually removed from their lawless and 
violent possession. These facts were established by the 
decrees and precepts in the hands of the Clerk of Court. 
As to the demolition of the houses, no houses were pulled 
down till after the ejections had been completed, and the 
property had become Mr. Sellar's. No furniture was 


destroyed by him, or by his orders, no unnecessary 
violence was used, nor any cruelty exercised, but every- 
thing was done in due order of law, and without oppres- 
sion of any kind. The charges of culpable homicide were 
quite out of the question, and Mr. Sellar defied the Public 
Prosecutor to prove them. Upon the whole, it was not 
doubted, that if truth and justice were to prevail over 
malice and conspiracy, Mr. Sellar would obtain an hon- 
ourable and triumphant acquittal. 

The Advocate-Depute having here stated that he did 
not mean to insist on any charges, excepting those which 
were specially and articulately mentioned in the indict- 
ment, Lord Pitmilly said : 

" It would be improper for me to enter at present into 
the origin of the prosecution, or the nature of the defences. 
Neither shall I say anything of the publications which 
have been alluded to, except that they appear to be of the 
most contemptible nature, and the only prejudice which 
I can entertain is the other way * that is, against the 
cause requiring such aid. I have no doubt as to the 
relevancy of the libel." 

The jury was composed of the following gentlemen : 
James Fraser, of Belladrum. 
William Fraser, of Culbockie. 
William Mackintosh, of Balnaspeck. 
Duncan Fraser, of Fingask. 
Alexander Smith, merchant in Inverness. 
John Gillanders, of Highfield. 
William Reid, of Muirtown. 
William Mackenzie, of Strathgarve. 
George Falconer Mackenzie, of Allangrange. 
Robert Denham, tacksman of Dunglass. 
George Kay, residing at Tannachy. 
Bailie Robert Joss, merchant in Elgin. 
John Barclay, writer, Elgin. 
John Collie, farmer at Alvas. 
John Smith, tacksman of Greens. 


Evidence for the prosecution and for the defence 
having been led at considerable length, 

Mr. Drummond addressed the jury on the part of the 
Crown. He stated that he gave up all the charges 
except the one which regarded the ejections from 
the barns, and that of real injury in the case of 
the old woman at Badinloskin. He certainly did 
not think the evidence in this case last was sufficient 
to establish culpable homicide \ but he argued, 
that the circumstances proved were sufficient to 
authorise the jury in finding a verdict of guilty to the 
extent of an injury, as she had been removed at the risk 
of her life, which he maintained to be contrary to law. 
As to the barns, he contended that the conduct of Mr. 
Sellar was irregular and illegal, and consequently oppres- 
sive, the outgoing tenants being entitled, by the custom 
of Sutherland, to retain them as long as the arable 

Mr. Gordon addressed the jury on the part of the panel, 
and replied to the arguments used on behalf of the prose- 
cution. He entered at great length into the history and 
objects of the prosecution ; the preconcerted plan on 
which certain persons had instigated the people of Strath- 
naver to complain at first, and to persist afterwards ; the 
views they entertained of successfully opposing the im- 
provements of Sutherland, by affecting the noble persons 
to whom the property belonged, through the sides of Mr. 
Sellar, as a convenient medium of succeeding ; the dis- 
graceful measures to which these persons had resorted, 
with a view to affect the channels of justice, the 
impartiality of jurymen, and the purity of evidence. He 
attacked the measures and conduct of Mr. Mackid in the 
most pointed terms ; exposed the characters of the evi- 
dence of Chisholm and others, and dwelt in the clear 
evidence of the total innocence of Mr. Sellar, and on the 
points of law which applied to the particular charges as 
criminal charges, at considerable length, and with refer- 
ence to various law authorities ; and finally, concluded 
by maintaining to the jury, that this was not merely the 
trial of Mr. Sellar, but, in truth, a conflict between the law 


of the land and a resistance to that law : That the ques- 
tion at issue involved the future fate and progress of 
agricultural, and even moral improvements, in the county 
of Sutherland ; that (though certainly not so intended 
by the Public Prosecutor, whose conduct throughout 
has been candid, correct, and liberal), it was nevertheless, 
in substance, and in fact, a trial of strength between the 
abettors of anarchy and misrule, and the magistracy, as 
well as the laws of this country. 

Lord Pitmilly, after having stated the law as applicable 
to this case, summed up the evidence in a very clear and 
able manner. His lordship stated, that it was unneces- 
sary for the jury to consider any of the charges, excepting 
the one in regard to the old woman at Badinloskin. As to 
the first, there could be no doubt of the practice in the 
country, of retaining these barns till the crops would be 
threshed out \ neither could it be doubted, that Mr. Sellar 
had not left the whole of the barns for the use of the out- 
going tenants, and in consequence of this, the tenants 
suffered damage. But in point of law, as the Court of 
Session had decided in a similar question, Mr. Sellar was 
not bound by any such practice, but was entitled to pro- 
ceed in the ejections. In regard to the injury charged to 
have been done to Margaret M'Kay, his Lordship directed 
the attention of the jury to the evidence of Chisholm. 
This witness, although contradicted in some particulars 
by his wife, was confirmed by John M'Kay, whose testi- 
mony his Lordship also laid before them. On the other 
hand, he brought under their view, the evidence of Suther- 
land, Fraser, and Burns, and stated that it was the duty of 
the Jury to balance betwixt these two sets of witnesses. 
His Lordship also said, that if the jury were at all at a loss 
on this part of the case, they ought to take into view 
he character of the accused ; for this was always of 
importance in balancing contradictory testimony. Now 
here there was, in the first place, real evidence, from the 
conduct of Mr. Sellar, in regard to the sick, for this, in 
several instances, had been proved to be most humane. 
And secondly, there were the letters of Sir George Aber- 
cromby, Mr. Brodie, and Mr. Fenton, which, although not 


evidence,* must have some weight with the jury ; and 
there were the testimonies of Mr. Gilzean and Sir Archi- 
bald Dunbar all establishing Mr. Sellar's humanity of 

The jury having retired for a quarter of an hour, re- 
turned a viva voce verdict, unanimously finding Mr. Sellar 


Lord Pitmilly observed that his opinion completely 
concurred with that of the jury, and in dismissing them 
after so long a trial, he was happy to say they had paid the 
most patient attention to the case, and had returned a 
verdict satisfactory to the Court. 

The verdict having been recorded, 

The Advocate-Depute declared that he thought it fair 
to the panel, and that it would be satisfactory to the jury, 
to state his conviction, that if those witnesses who were 
rejected on account of errors in their designations, had 
been examined, the result of the trial would have been 
the same. 

Lord Pitmilly then addressed Mr. Sellar. 

His Lordship said, " Mr. Sellar, it is now my duty to 
dismiss you from the bar ; and you have the satisfaction 
of thinking, that you are discharged by the unanimous 
opinion of the jury and the Court. I am sure that, al- 
though your feelings must have been agitated, you cannot 
regret that this trial took place, and I am hopeful it will 
have due effect on the minds of the country, which have 
been so much, and so improperly agitated." 

The Court then pronounced an interlocutor, in respect 
of the verdict of the assize, assoilzieing the panel sim- 
pliciter, and dismissing him from the bar. 

The trial lasted from ten o'clock on Tuesday till one 
o'clock on Wednesday morning, and the Court-room was 
crowded to excess. 

* The italics are mine. ED. 



Great cruelties were perpetrated at Glencalvie, Ross- 
shire, where the evicted had to retire into the parish 
churchyard. There for more than a week they found the 
only shelter obtainable in their native land. No one dared 
to succour them, under a threat of receiving similar treat- 
ment to those whose hard fate had driven them thus 
among the tombs. Many of them, indeed, wished that 
their lot had landed them under the sod with their ances- 
tors and friends, rather than be treated and driven out of 
house and home in such a ruthless manner. A special 
commissioner sent down by the London Times describes 
the circumstances as follows : 

~L$th May, 1845. 

Those who remember the misery and destitution to 
which large masses of the population were thrown by the 
systematic " Clearances " (as they are here called) carried 
on in Sutherlandshire some 20 years ago, under the direc- 
tion and on the estate of the late Marchioness of Stafford 
those who have not forgotten to what an extent the 
ancient ties which bound clansmen to their chiefs were 
then torn asunder will regret to learn the heartless 
scourge with all its sequences of misery, of destitution, and 
and of crime, is again being resorted to in Ross-shire. 
Amongst an imaginative people like the Highlanders, 
who, poetic from dwelling amongst wild and romantic 
scenery, shut out from the world and clinging to the 
traditions of the past, it requires little, with fair treat- 
ment, to make them almost idolise their heritor. They 
would spend the last drop of their blood in his service. 
But this feeling of respectful attachment to the land- 
owners, which money cannot buy, is fast passing away. 


This change is not without cause ; and perhaps if the 
dark deeds of calculating " feelosophy " transacted 
through the instrumentality of factors in some of these 
lonely glens \ if the almost inconceivable misery and 
hopeless destitution in which, for the expected acquisition 
of a few pounds, hundreds of peaceable and generally 
industrious and contented peasants are driven out from 
the means of self-support, to become wanderers and 
starving beggars, and in which a brave and valuable 
population is destroyed are exposed to the gaze of the 
world, general indignation and disgust may effect what 
moral obligations and humanity cannot. One of these 
clearances is about to take place in the parish of Kincar- 
dine, from which I now write ; and throughout the whole 
district it has created the strongest feeling of 

This parish is divided into two districts each of great 
extent ; one is called the parliamentary district of 
Croick. The length of this district is about 20 miles, 
with a breadth of from 10 to 15 miles. It extends 
amongst the most remote and unfrequented parts of 
the country, consisting chiefly of hills of heather and rock, 
peopled only in a few straths and glens. This district 
was formerly thickly peopled * but one of those clear- 
ances many years ago nearly swept away the population, 
and now the whole number of its inhabitants amounts, 
I am told, to only 370 souls. These are divided into three 
straths or glens, and live in a strath called Amatnatua, 
another strath called Greenyard, and in Glencalvie. It 
is the inhabitants of Glencalvie, in number 90 people, 
whose turn it is now to be turned out of their homes, all 
at once, the aged and the helpless as well as the young and 
strong ; nearly the whole of them without hope or pros- 
pect for the future. The proprietor of this glen is Major 
Charles Robertson of Kindeace, who is at present out 
with his regiment in Australia ] and his factor or steward 
who acts for him in his absence is Mr. James Gillanders of 
Highfield Cottage, near Dingwall. Glencalvie is situated 
about 25 miles from Tain, eastward. Bleak rough hills, 
whose surface are almost all rock and heather, closed in 



on all sides, leaving in the valley a gentle declivity of 
arable land of a very poor description, dotted over by 
cairns of stone and rock, not, at the utmost computation, 
of more than 15 to 20 acres in extent. For this piece of 
indifferent land with a right of pasturage on the hills 
impinging upon it and on which, if it were not a fact 
that sheep do live, you would not credit that they could 
live, so entirely does it seem void of vegetation, beyond 
the brown heather, whilst its rocky nature makes it 
dangerous and impossible even for a sheep walk the 
almost increditable rent of 55 IDS. has been paid. I am 
convinced that for the same land no farmer in England 
would give 15 at the utmost. 

Even respectable farmers here say they do not know 
how the people raise the rent for it. Potatoes and barley 
were grown in the valley, and some sheep and a few 
black cattle find provender amongst the heather. 
Eighteen families have each a cottage in the valley ; 
they have always paid their rent punctually, and they 
have contrived to support themselves in all ordinary 
seasons. They have no poor on the poor roll, and they 
help one another over the winter. I am told that not an 
inhabitant of this valley has been charged with any 
offence for years back. During the war it furnished 
many soldiers ; and an old pensioner, 82 years of age, 
who has served in India, is now dying in one of these 
cottages, where he was born. For the convenience of the 
proprietor, some ten years ago, four of the principal 
tenants became bound for the rest, to collect all the rents 
and pay the whole in one sum. 

The clearance of this valley, having attracted much 
notice, has been thoroughly enquired into, and a kind of 
defence has been entered upon respecting it, which I 
am told has been forwarded to the Lord Advocate. 
Through the politeness of Mr. Mackenzie, writer, Tain, I 
have been favoured with a copy of it. The only explan- 
ation or defence of the clearance, that I can find in it, is 
that shortly after Mr. Gillanders assumed the manage- 
ment of Major Robertson's estate, he found that it be- 
came absolutely necessary to adopt a different system, 


in regard to the lands of Glencalvie, " from that hitherto 

The " different system " as it appears was to turn the 
barley and potato grounds into a sheep walk, and the 
" absolute necessity " for it is an alleged increase of rent. 

It was accordingly, in 1843, attempted to serve sum- 
monses of removal upon the tenants. They were in no 
arrears of rent, they had no burdens in poor ; for 500 
years their fathers had peaceably occupied the glen, and 
the people were naturally indignant. Who can be sur- 
prised that, on the constables going amongst them with 
the summonses, they acted in a manner which, while it 
showed their excitement, not the less evinced their wish 
to avoid breaking the law ? The women met the con- 
stables beyond the boundaries, over the river, and seized 
the hand of the one who held the notices ; whilst some 
held it out by the wrist, others held a live coal to the 
papers and set fire to them. They were afraid of being 
charged with destroying the notices, and they sought 
thus to evade the consequences. This act of resistance 
on their part has been made the most of. One of the men 
told me, hearing they were to be turned out because 
they did not pay rent enough, that they offered to pay 
15 a year more, and afterwards to pay as much rent as 
any other man would give for the place. The following 
year (1844), however, the four chief tenants were de- 
coyed to Tain, under the assurance that Mr. Gillanders 
was going to settle with them, they believing that their 
holdings were to be continued to them. The notices were 
then, as they say, in a treacherous and tricky manner, 
served upon them, however. Having been served, " a 
decreet of removal " was obtained against them, under 
which, of course, if they refused to turn out they would be 
put out by force. Finding themselves in this position, 
they entered into an arrangement with Mr. Gillanders, 
in which after several propositions on either side, it was 
agreed that they should remain until the I2th of May, 
to give them time to provide themselves with holdings 
elsewhere, Mr. Gillanders agreeing to pay them 100 on 
quitting, and to take their stock on at a valuation. They 


were also to have liberty to carry away the timber of their 
houses, which was really worthless, except for firewood. 
On their part they agreed to leave peaceably, and not to 
lay down any crop. Beyond the excessive harshness of 
removing the people at all, it is but right to say that the 
mode of proceeding in the removal hitherto has been tem- 
perate and considerate. 

Two respectable farmers became bound for the people 
that they would carry out their part of the agreement, 
and the time of removal has since been extended to the 
25th of this month. In the defence got up for this pro- 
ceeding it is stated that all have been provided for ; this 
is not only not the case, but seems to be intentionally 
deceptive. In speaking of all, the four principal tenants 
only are meant ; for, according to the factor, these were 
all he had to do with ; but this is not the case even in 
regard to the four principal tenants. Two only, a father 
and son, have got a piece of black moor, near Tain, 25 
miles off, without any house or shed on it, out of which 
they hope to obtain subsistence. For this they are to 
pay i rent for 7 acres the first year * 2 for the second 
year ; and 3 for a continuation. Another old man with 
a family has got a house and a small lot of land in Edder- 
ton, about 20 miles off. These three, the whole who have 
obtained places where they may hope to make a living. 
The old pensioner, if removing does not kill him, has ob- 
tained for himself and family, and for his son's family, a 
house at a rent of 3 or 4, some ten miles off, without 
any land or means of subsistence attached to it. This old 
soldier has been offered 2s. a week by the factor to support 
him while he lived. He was one of the four principal 
tenants bound for the rent ; and he indignantly refused 
to be kept as a pauper. 

A widow with four children, two imbecile, has obtained 
two small apartments in a bothy or turf hut near Bonar 
Bridge, for which she is to pay 2 rent, without any land 
or means of subsistence. Another, a man with a wife and 
four children, has got an apartment at Bonar Bridge, at 
i rent. He goes there quite destitute, without means of 
living. Six only of eighteen households, therefore, have 


been able to obtain places in which to put their heads ; 
and of these, three only have any means of subsistence 
before them. The rest are hopeless and helpless. Two or 
three of the men told me they have been round to every 
factor and proprietor in the neighbourhood, and they 
could obtain no place, and nothing to do, and they did not 
know where to go to, or what to do to live. 

And for what are all these people to be reduced from 
comfort to beggary ? For what is this virtuous and con- 
tented community to be scattered ? I confess I can find 
no answer. It is said that the factor would rather have 
one tenant than many, as it saves him trouble ! But so 
long as the rent is punctually paid as this has been, it is 
contrary to all experience to suppose that one large tenant 
will pay more rent than many small ones, or that a sheep 
walk can pay more rent than cultivated land. 

Let me add that so far from the clearance at Glen- 
calvie being a solitary instance in this neighbourhood, it 
is one of many. The tenants of Newmore, near Tain, who 
I am told, amount to 16 families, are to be weeded out (as 
they express it here) on the 25th, by the same Mr. Gil- 
landers. The same factor manages the Strathconon 
estate, about 30 miles from Newmore, from which during 
the last four years, some hundreds of families have been 
weeded. The Government Church of that district, 
built eighteen years ago, to meet the necessities of the 
population, is now almost unnecessary from the want of 
population. At Black Isle, near Dingwall, the same 
agent is pursuing the same course, and so strong is the 
feeling of the poor Highlanders at these outrageous 
proceedings, so far as they are concerned wholly un- 
warranted from any cause whatever, that I am informed 
on the best authority, and by those who go amongst 
them and hear what they say, that it is owing to the in- 
fluence of religion alone that they refrain from breaking 
out into open and turbulent resistance of the law. I en- 
close you the defence of this proceeding, with a list of the 
names and numbers of each family in Glencalvie in all 
92 persons.* 

* Condon Times of Tuesday, 2oth May, 1845. 



In a " Sermon for the Times," the Rev. Richard Hibbs' 
of the Episcopal Church, Edinburgh, referring to these 
evictions, says : " Take first, the awful proof how far in 
oppression men can go men highly educated and largely 
gifted in every way property, talents, all ; for the most 
part indeed, they are so-called noblemen. What, then, 
are they doing in the Highland districts, according to the 
testimony of a learned professor in this city ? Why, 
depopulating those districts in order to make room for 
red deer. And how ? By buying off the cottars, and 
giving them money to emigrate ? Not at all, but by 
starving them out ; by rendering them absolutely in- 
capable of procuring subsistence for themselves and 
families ; for they first take away from them their ap- 
portionments of poor lands, although they may have paid 
their rents ; and if that don't suffice to eradicate from 
their hearts that love of the soil on which they have been 
born and bred a love which the great Proprietor of all 
has manifestly implanted in our nature why, then, these 
inhuman landlords, who are far more merciful to their 
very beasts, take away from these poor cottars the very 
roofs above their defenceless heads, and expose them, 
worn down with age and destitute of everything, to the 
inclemencies of a northern sky ; and this, forsooth, be- 
cause they must have plenty room for their dogs and deer. 
For plentiful instances of the most wanton barbarities 
under this head we need only point to the Knoydart 
evictions. Here were perpetrated such enormities as 
might well have caused the very sun to hide his face at 
noon-day." Macleod, referring to this sermon, says : 

" It has been intimated to me by an individual who 
heard this discourse on the first occasion that the state- 
ments referring to the Highland landlords have been con- 
troverted. I was well aware, long before the receipt of 
this intimation, that some defence had appeared ] and 
here I can truly say, that none would have rejoiced more 
than myself to find that a complete vindication had been 


made. But, unhappily, the case is far otherwise. In 
order to be fully acquainted with all that had passed on 
the subject, I have put myself during the week in com- 
munication with the learned professor to whose letter, 
which appeared some months ago in the Times, I referred. 
From him I learn that none of his statements were 
invalidated nay, not even impugned ; and he adds, 
that to do this was simply impossible, as he had been 
at great pains to verify the facts. All that could be called 
in question was the theory that he had based upon those 
facts namely, that evictions were made for the purpose 
of making room for more deer. This, of course, was open 
to contradiction on the part of those landlords who had 
not openly avowed their object in evicting the poor High- 
land families. As to the evictions themselves and this 
was the main point no attempt at contradiction was 

In addition to all that the benevolent Professor [Black] 
has made known to the world under this head, who has 
not heard of " The Massacre of the Rosses," and the 
clearing of the glens ? "I hold in my hand," Mr. Hibbs 
continued, " a little work thus entitled, which has passed 
into the second edition. The author, Mr. Donald Ross 
a gentleman whom all who feel sympathy for the down- 
trodden and oppressed must highly esteem. What a 
humiliating picture of the barbarity and cruelty of fallen 
humanity does this little book present ! The reader, 
utterly appalled by its horrifying statements, finds it 
difficult to retain the recollection that he is perusing the 
history of his own times, and country too. He would 
fain yield himself to the tempting illusion that the ruthless 
atrocities which are depicted were enacted in a fabulous 
period, in ages long past ; or at all events, if it be con- 
temporaneous history, that the scene of such heart- 
rending cruelties, the perpetrators of which were regard- 
less alike of the innocency of infancy and the helplessness 
of old age, is some far distant, and as yet not merely 
unchristianized, but wholly savage and uncivilized region 
of our globe. But alas ! it is Scotland, in the latter half 
of the nineteenth century, of which he treats. One feature 


of the heart-harrowing case is the shocking and barbarous 
cruelty that was practised on this occasion upon the 
female portion of the evicted clan. Mr. D. Ross, in a 
letter addressed to the Right Hon. the Lord Advocate, 
Edinburgh, dated April 19, 1854, th us writes in reference 
to one of those clearances and evictions which had just 
then taken place, under the authority of a certain Sheriff 
of the district, and by means of a body of policemen as 
executioners : ' The feeling on this subject, not only 
in the district, but in Sutherlandshire and Ross-shire, 
is, among the great majority of the people, one of uni- 
versal condemnation of the Sheriff's reckless conduct, 
and of indignation and disgust at the brutality of the 
policemen. Such, indeed, was the sad havoc made on the 
females on the banks of the Carron, on the memorable 
3ist March last, that pools of blood were on the ground 
that the grass and earth were dyed red with it that the 
dogs of the district came and licked up the blood ; and 
at last, such was the state of feeling of parties who went 
from a distance to see the field, that a party (it is under- 
stood by order or instructions from headquarters) actually 
harrowed the ground during the night to hide the blood ! 

" The affair at Greenyard, on the morning of the 3ist 
March last, is not calculated to inspire much love of 
country, or rouse the martial spirit of the already ill-used 
Highlanders. The savage treatment of innocent females 
on that morning, by an enraged body of police, throws 
the Sinope butchery into the shade ; for the Ross-shire 
Haynaus have shown themselves more cruel and more 
blood-thirsty than the Austrian women-floggers. What 
could these poor men and women with their wounds 
and scars, and broken bones, and disjointed arms, 
stretched on beds of sickness, or moving on crutches, 
the result of the brutal treatment of them by the police 
at Greenyard have to dread from the invasion of Scot- 
land by Russia ? ' " 

Commenting on this incredible atrocity, committed in 
the middle of the nineteenth century, Donald Macleod 
says truly that : " It was so horrifying and so brutal 
tha the did not wonder at the rev. gentleman's delicacy 


in speaking of it, and directing his hearers to peruse Mr. 
Ross's pamphlet for full information. Mr. Ross went 
from Glasgow to Greenyard, all the way to investigate the 
case upon the spot, and found that Mr. Taylor, a native of 
Sutherland, well educated in the evicting schemes and 
murderous cruelty of that county, and Sheriff-substitute 
of Ross-shire, marched from Tain upon the morning of the 
3 ist March, at the head of a strong party of armed con- 
stables, with heavy bludgeons and fire-arms, conveyed 
in carts and other vehicles, allowing them as much ardent 
drink as they chose to take before leaving and on their 
march, so as to qualify them for the bloody work which 
they had to perform * fit for any outrage, fully equipped, 
and told by the Sheriff to show no mercy to any one who 
would oppose them, and not allow themselves to be 
called cowards, by allowing these mountaineers victory 
over them. In this excited, half-drunken state, they 
came in contact with the unfortunate women of Green- 
yard, who were determined to prevent the officers from 
serving the summonses of removal upon them, and keep 
their holding of small farms where they and their fore- 
fathers lived and died for generations. But no time was 
allowed for parley ; the Sheriff gave the order to clear the 
way, and, be it said to his everlasting disgrace, he struck 
the first blow at a woman, the mother of a large family, 
and large in the family way at the time, who tried to keep 
him back ; then a general slaughter commenced ; the 
women made noble resistance, until the bravest of them 
got their arms broken ; then they gave way. This did 
not allay the rage of the murderous brutes, they con- 
tinued clubbing at the protectless creatures until every 
one of them was stretched on the field, weltering in their 
blood, or with broken arms, ribs, and bruised limbs. 
In this woeful condition many of them were hand-cuffed 
together, others tied with coarse ropes, huddled into carts, 
and carried prisoners to Tain. I have seen myself in the 
possession of Mr. Ross, Glasgow, patches or scalps 
of the skin with the long hair adhering to them, which was 
found upon the field a few days after this inhuman affray. 
I did not see the women, but I was told that gashes were 


found on the heads of two young female prisoners in 
Tain jail, which exactly corresponded with the slices of 
scalps which I have seen, so that Sutherland and Ross- 
shire may boast of having had the Nana Sahib and his 
chiefs some few years before India, and that in the per- 
sons of some whose education, training, and parental 
example should prepare their minds to perform and act 
differently. Mr. Donald Ross placed the whole affair 
before the Lord Advocate for Scotland, but no notice was 
taken of it by that functionary, further than that the 
majesty of the law would need to be observed and at- 
tended to. 

" In this unfortunate country, the law of God and hum- 
anity may be violated and trampled under foot, but the 
law of wicked men which sanctions murder, rapine, and 
robbery must be observed. From the same estate (the 
estate of Robertson of Kindeace, if I am not mistaken in 
the date) in the year 1843 the whole inhabitants of Glen- 
calvie were evicted in a similar manner, and so unpro- 
vided and unprepared were they for removal at such an 
inclement season of the year, that they had to shelter 
themselves in a Church and a bury ing-ground. I have 
seen myself nineteen families within this gloomy and 
solitary resting abode of the dead, they were there for 
months. The London Times sent a commissioner direct 
from London to investigate into this case, and he did his 
duty ; but like the Sutherland cases, it was hushed up 
in order to maintain the majesty of the law, and in order 
to keep the right, the majesty of the people, and the laws 
of God in the dark. 

" In the year 1819 or '20, about the time when the 
depopulation of Sutherlandshire was completed, and the 
annual conflagration of burning the houses ceased, and 
when there was not a glen or strath in the county to let 
to a sheep farmer, one of these insatiable monsters of 
Sutherlandshire sheep farmers fixed his eyes upon a glen 
in Ross-shire, inhabited by a brave, hardy race for time 
immemorial. Summonses of removal were served upon 
them at once. The people resisted a military force 
was brought against them the military and the women 


of the glen met at the entrance to the glen, and a bloody 
conflict took place ; without reading the riot act or taking 
any other precaution, the military fired (by the order of 
Sheriff MacLeod) ball cartridge upon the women ; one 
young girl of the name of Mathieson was shot dead on the 
spot ; many were wounded. When this murder was 
observed by the survivors, and some young men con- 
cealed in the background, they made a heroic sudden 
rush upon the military, when a hand-to-hand melee or 
fight took place. In a few minutes the military were put 
to disorder by flight ; in their retreat they were unmerci- 
fully dealt with, only two of them escaping with whole 
heads. The Sheriff's coach was smashed to atoms, and he 
made a narrow escape himself with a whole head. But no 
legal cognizance was taken of this affair, as the Sheriff 
and the military were the violators. However, for fear of 
prosecution, the Sheriff settled a pension of 6 sterling 
yearly upon the murdered girl's father, and the case was 
hushed up likewise. The result was that the people kept 
possession of the glen, and that the proprietor and the 
oldest and most insatiable of Sutherlandshire scourges 
went to law, which ended in the ruination of the latter, 
who died a pauper." 

Hugh Miller, describing a " Highland Clearing," in one 
of his able leading articles in the Witness, since published 
in volume form, quotes freely from an article by John 
Robertson, which appeared in the Glasgow National 
in August, 1844, on the evictions of the Rosses of Glen- 
calvie. When the article from which Hugh Miller quotes 
was written, the inhabitants of the glen had just received 
notices of removal, but the evictions had not yet been 
carried out. Commenting on the proceedings Hugh 
Miller says : 

" In an adjacent glen (to Strathcarron), through which 
the Calvie works its headlong way to the Carron, that 
terror of the Highlanders, a summons of removal, has 
been served within the last few months on a whole com- 
munity ; and the graphic sketch of Mr. Robertson relates 
both the peculiar circumstances in which it has been 
issued, and the feelings which it has excited. We find 


from his testimony that the old state of things which 
is so immediately on the eve of being broken up in this 
locality, lacked not a few of those sources of terror to the 
proprietary of the county, that are becoming so very 
formidable to them in the newer states.'' 

The constitution of society in the Glens, says Mr. 
Robertson, is remarkably simple. Four heads of families 
are bound for the whole rental. The number of souls 
was about ninety, sixteen cottages paid rent ; they sup- 
ported a teacher for the education of their own children ; 
they supported their own poor. " The laird has never 
lost a farthing of rent in bad years, such as 1836 and 1837, 
the people may have required the favour of a few weeks' 
delay, but they are not now a single farthing in arrears ; " 
that is, when they are in receipt of summonses of removal. 
" For a century," Mr. Robertson continues, speaking of 
the Highlanders, " their privileges have been lessening ; 
they dare not now hunt the deer, or shoot the grouse or 
the blackcock ; they have no longer the range of the hills 
for their cattle and their sheep ; they must not catch a 
salmon in the stream : in earth, air, and water, the rights 
of the laird are greater, and the rights of the people are 
smaller, than they were in the days of their forefathers." 
The same writer eloquently concludes : 

" The father of the laird of Kindeace bought Glen- 
calvie. It was sold by a Ross two short centuries ago. 
The swords of the Rosses of Glencalvie did their part in 
protecting this little glen, as well as the broad lands of 
Pitcalvie, from the ravages and the clutches of hostile 
septs. These clansmen bled and died in the belief that 
every principle of honour and morals secured their 
descendants a right to subsisting on the soil. The chiefs 
and their children had the same charter of the sword. 
Some Legislatures have made the right of the people 
superior to the right of the chief ] British law-makers 
made the rights of the chief everything, and those of their 
followers nothing. The ideas of the morality of property 
are in most men the creatures of their interests and sym- 
pathies. Of this there cannot be a doubt, however, 
the chiefs would not have had the land at all, could the 


clansmen have foreseen the present state of the High- 
lands their children in mournful groups going into 
exile the faggot of legal myrmidons in the thatch of the 
feal cabin the hearths of their homes and their lives the 
green sheep-walks of the stranger. Sad it is, that it is 
seemingly the will of our constituencies that our laws shall 
prefer the few to the many. Most mournful will it be, 
should the clansmen of the Highlands have been cleared 
away, ejected, exiled, in deference to a political, a moral, 
a social, and an economical mistake, a suggestion not 
of philosophy, but of mammon, a system in which the 
demon of sordidness assumed the shape of the angel of 
civilization and of light." 

That the Eviction of the Rosses was of a harsh 
character is amply corroborated by the following account, 
extracted from the Inverness Courier : " We mentioned 
last week that considerable obstruction was anticipated 
in the execution of the summonses of removal upon the 
tenants of Major Robertson of Kindeace, on his property 
of Greenyards, near Bonar Bridge. The office turned 
out to be of a very formidable character. At six o'clock 
on the morning of Friday last, Sheriff Taylor proceeded 
from Tain, accompanied by several Sheriff's officers, and 
a police force of about thirty more, partly belonging to the 
constabulary force of Ross-shire, and partly to that of 
Inverness-shire,- the latter under the charge of Mr. 
Mackay, inspector, Fort William. On arriving at Green- 
yards, which is nearly four miles from Bonar Bridge, 
it was found that about three hundred persons, fully 
two-thirds of whom were women, had assembled from 
the county round about, all apparently prepared to resist 
the execution of the law. The women stood in front, 
armed with stones, and the men occupied the background, 
all, or nearly all, furnished with sticks. 

" The Sheriff attempted to reason with the crowd, and 
to show them the necessity of yielding to the law : but 
his efforts were fruitless j some of the women tried to lay 
hold of him and to strike him, and after a painful effort 
to effect the object in view by peaceable means which 
was renewed in vain by Mr. Gumming, the superintendent 


of the Ross-shire police the Sheriff was reluctantly 
obliged to employ force. The force was led by Mr. 
Gumming into the crowd, and, after a sharp resistance, 
which happily lasted only a few minutes, the people were 
dispersed, and the Sheriff was enabled to execute the sum- 
monses upon the four tenants. The women, as they bore 
the brunt of the battle, were the principal sufferers. A 
large number of them fifteen or sixteen, we believe, were 
seriously hurt, and of these several are under medical 
treatment \ one woman, we believe, still lies in a pre- 
carious condition. The policemen appear to have used 
their batons with great force, but they escaped themselves 
almost unhurt. Several correspondents from the district, 
who do not appear, however, to make sufficient allow- 
ance for the critical position of affairs, and the necessity 
of at once impressing so large a multitude with the serious 
nature of the case, complain that the policemen used their 
batons with wanton cruelty. Others state that they not 
only did their duty, but that less firmness might have 
proved fatal to themselves. The instances of violence 
are certainly, though very naturally, on the part of the 
attacking force j several batons were smashed in the 
melee ; a great number of men and women were seriously 
hurt, especially about the head and face, while not one of 
the policemen, so far as we can learn, suffered any injury 
in consequence. As soon as the mob was fairly dispersed, 
the police made active pursuit, in the hope of catching 
some of the ringleaders. The men had, however, fled, 
and the only persons apprehended were some women, 
who had been active in the opposition, and who had been 
wounded. They were conveyed to the prison at Tain, 
but liberated on bail next day, through the intercession 
of a gallant friend, who became responsible for their 

" A correspondent writes," continues the Courier, " ten 
young women were wounded in the back of the skull and 
other parts of their bodies. . . . The wounds on 
these women show plainly the severe manner in which 
they were dealt with by the police when they were re- 
treating. It was currently reported last night that one 


of them was dead ; and the feeling of indignation is so 
strong against the manner in which the constables have 
acted, that I fully believe the life of any stranger, if he 
were supposed to be an officer of the law, would not be 
worth twopence in the district." 

The Northern Ensign, referring to the same case, says : 
" One day lately a preventive officer with two cutter 
men made their appearance on the boundaries of the 
estate and were taken for Tain Sheriff-officers. The 
signals were at once given, and in course of half-an-hour 
the poor ganger and his men were surrounded by 300 
men and women, who would not be remonstrated with 
either in English or Gaelic * the poor fellows were taken 
and denuded of their clothing, all papers and documents 
were extracted and burnt, amongst which was a purse 
with a considerable quantity of money. In this state 
they were carried shoulder-high off the estate, and left 
at the braes of Downie, where the great Culrain riot took 
place thirty years ago." 


During the first years of the century a great many were 
cleared from Kintail by Seaforth at the instigation of his 
Kintail factor, Duncan Mor Macrae, and his father, who 
themselves added the land taken from the ancient 
tenantry to their own sheep farms, already far too exten- 
sive. In Glengarry, Canada, a few years ago, we met 
one man, 93 years of age, who was among the evicted. 
He was in excellent circumstances, his three sons having 
three valuable farms of their own, and considered wealthy 
in the district. In the same county there is a large 
colony of Kintail men, the descendants of those cleared 
from that district, all comfortable, many of them very 
well off, one of them being then member for his county in 
the dominion Parliament. While this has been the case 
with many of the evicted from Kintail and their descend- 
ants in Canada, the grasping sheep farmer who was the 
original cause of their eviction from their native land, 
died ruined and penniless ; and the Seaforths, not long 


after, had to sell the last inch of their ancient inheritance 
in Lochalsh and Kintail. Shortly after these Glenelchaig 
evictions, about fifty families were banished in the same 
way and by the same people from the district of Letter- 
fearn. This property has also changed hands since, and 
is now in possession of Sir Alexander Matheson, Baronet 
of Lochalsh. Letter of Lochalsh was cleared by Sir Hugh 
Innes, almost as soon as he came into possession by pur- 
chase of that portion of the ancient heritage of Seaforth 
and Kintail. The property has since passed into the 
hands of the Lillingstones. 


The attempt to evict the Coigeach crofters must also 
be mentioned. Here the people made a stout resistance, 
the women disarming about twenty policemen and sheriff- 
officers, burning the summonses in a heap, throwing their 
batons into the sea, and ducking the representatives of 
the law in a neighbouring pool. The men formed the 
second line of defence, in case the women should receive 
any ill-treatment. They, however, never put a finger 
on the officers of law, all of whom returned home without 
serving a single summons or evicting a single crofter. 
The proceedings of her subordinates fortunately came to 
the ears of the noble proprietrix, with the result that the 
Coigeach tenants are still where they were, and are to-day 
among the most comfortable crofters in the north of Scot- 


From 1840 to 1848 Strathconon was almost entirely 
cleared of its ancient inhabitants to make room for sheep 
and deer, as in other places ; and also for the purposes of 
extensive forest plantations. The property was under 
trustees when the harsh proceedings were commenced by 
the factor, Mr. Rose, a notorious Dingwall solicitor. 

* By Alexander Mackenzie. 


He began by taking away, first, the extensive hill-pasture, 
for generations held as club-farms by the townships, thus 
reducing the people from a position of comfort and in- 
dependence ; and secondly, as we saw done elsewhere, 
finally evicting them from the arable portion of the strath, 
though they were not a single penny in arrear of rent. 
Coirre-Bhuic and Scard-Roy were first cleared, and given, 
respectively, as sheep-farms to Mr. Brown, from Moray- 
shire, and Colin Munro, from Dingwall. Mr. Balfour, 
when he came of age, cleared Coire-Feola and Achadh- 
an-eas \ Carnach was similarly treated, while no fewer 
than twenty-seven families were evicted from Glen- 
Meine alone. Baile-a-Mhuilinn and Baile-na-Creige were 
cleared in 1844, no fewer than twenty-four families from 
these townships removing to the neighbourhood of 
Knock-farrel and I,och Ussie, above Dingwall, where 
they were provided with holdings by the late John Hay 
Mackenzie of Cromartie, father of the present Duchess of 
Sutherland, and where a few of themselves and many 
of their descendants are now in fairly comfortable circum- 
stances. A great many more found shelter on various 
properties in the Black Isle some at Drynie Park, 
Maol-Bui ; others at Kilcoy, Allangrange, Cromarty, 
and the Aird. 

It is computed that from four to five hundred souls 
were thus driven from Strathconon, and cast adrift on the 
world, including a large number of persons quite helpless, 
from old age, blindness, and other infirmities. The scenes 
were much the same as we have described in connection 
with other places. There is, however, one apect of the 
harshness and cruelty practised on the Strathconon 
people, not applicable in many other cases, namely, 
that in most instances where they settled down and re- 
claimed land, they were afterwards re-evicted, and the 
lands brought into cultivation by themselves, taken 
from them, without any compensation whatever, and 
given at enhanced rents to large farmers. This is 
specially true of those who settled down in the Black 
Isle, where they reclaimed a great deal of waste now mak- 
ing some of the best farms in that district. Next after 



Mr. Rose of Dingwall, the principal instrument in clearing 
Strathconon, was the late James Gillanders of Highfield, 
already so well and unfavourably known to the reader in 
connection with the evictions at Glencalvie and else- 

It may be remarked that the Strathconon evictions are 
worthy of note for the forcible illustration they furnish of 
how, by these arbitrary and unexpected removals, hard- 
ships and ruin have frequently been brought on families 
and communities who were at the time in contented and 
comfortable circumstances. At one time, and previous 
to the earlier evictions, perhaps no glen of its size in the 
Highlands had a larger population than Strathconon. 
The club farm system, once so common in the North, 
seems to have been peculiarly successful here. Hence 
a large proportion of the people were well to do, but when 
suddenly called upon to give up their hill pasture, and 
afterwards their arable land, and in the absence of other 
suitable places to settle in, the means they had very soon 
disappeared, and the trials and difficulties of new condi- 
tions had to be encountered. As a rule, in most of these 
Highland evictions, the evicted were lost sight of, they 
having either emigrated to foreign lands or become 
absorbed in the ever-increasing unemployed population 
of the large towns. In the case of Strathconon it was 
different, as has been already stated ] many of the 
families evicted were allowed to settle on some of the 
wildest unreclaimed land in the Black Isle. Their sub- 
sequent history there, and the excellent agricultural con- 
dition into which they in after years brought their small 
holdings, is a standing refutation of the charge so often 
made against the Highland people, that they are lazy 
and incapable of properly cultivating the land. 


Respecting the estates of Drynie and Kilcoy, a corres- 
pondent, who says, " I well remember my excessive grief 
when my father had to leave the farm which his fore- 
fathers had farmed for five generations," writes : 


" All the tenants to the east of Dry me, as far 
as Craigiehow, were turned out, one by one, to make 
room for one large tenant, Mr. Robertson, who had 
no less than four centres for stackyards. A most 
prosperous tenantry were turned out to make room for 
him, and what is the end of it all ! Mr. Robertson has 
come to grief as a farmer, and now holds a very humble 
position in the -town of Inverness. Drumderfit used to 
be occupied by fifteen or sixteen tenants who were 
gradually, and from time to time, evicted, during the 
last fifty years. Balnakyle was tenanted by five very 
comfortable and respectable farmers, four of whom were 
turned out within the last thirty years ; Balnaguie 
was occupied by three ; Torr by six ; and Croft-cruive 
by five \ the once famous names of Drum-na-marg and 
Moreton are now extinct, as well as the old tenantry whrae 
forefathers farmed these places for generations. TOC 
present farm of Kilcoy includes a number of holdings 
whose tenants were evicted to make room for one large 
farmer ; " and this is equally true of many others in the 
district. Nothing can better illustrate the cruel manner 
in which the ancient tenantry of the country have been 
treated than these facts ; and special comment on the 
evictions from Strathconon and the Black Isle, after what 
has been said about others of a similar character, would be 


No one was evicted from the Island of Lewis, in the 
strict sense of the term, but 2231 souls had to leave it 
between 1851 and 1863. To pay their passage money, 
their inland railway fares on arrival, and to provide them 
with clothing and other furnishings, the late Sir James 
Matheson paid a sum of 11,855. Notwithstanding 
all this expenditure, many of these poor people would 
have died from starvation on their arrival without the 
good offices of friends in Canada. 

In 1841, before Mr. Matheson bought it, a cargo of 


emigrants from the Lews arrived at Quebec late in the 
autumn, accompanied by a Rev. Mr. Maclean, sent out to 
minister to their spiritual wants, but it appears that no 
provision had been made for the more pressing demands of 
a severe Canadian winter ; and were it not for the Saint 
Andrew's Society of Montreal, every soul of them would 
have been starved to death that winter in a strange land. 
The necessities of the case, and how this patriotic Society 
saved their countrymen from a horrid death will be seen 
on perusal of the following minutes, extracted from the 
books of the Society, during the writer's recent tour in 
Canada : " A special meeting of the office-bearers was 
summoned on the 20th September, 1841, to take into 
consideration an application made by Mr. Morris, Presi- 
dent of the Emigration Association of the district of St. 
Francis, for some pecuniary aid to a body of 229 destitute 
emigrants who had recently arrived from the Island of 
Lewis (Scotland), and who were then supported chiefly 
by the contributions of the charitable inhabitants of the 
town of Sherbrooke and its neighbourhood. Mr. Morris' 
letter intimated that unless other assistance was received, 
it would be impossible for these emigrants to outlive the 
winter, as they were in a state of utter destitution, and 
the inhabitants of the township could not support so 
large a number of persons from their own unaided re- 
sources. The meeting decided that the Constitution 
of the Society prohibited them from applying its funds to 
an object like the one presented it did not appear to 
authorise the granting of relief from its funds except to 
cases of destitution in the city ; but as this case appeared 
of an urgent nature, and one particularly calling for 
assistance, Messrs. Hew Ramsay and Neil M'Intosh were 
appointed to collect subscriptions on behalf of the emi- 
grants. This committee acquitted itself with great 
diligence and success, having collected the handsome 
sum of 234 145. 6d., the whole of which was, at different 
times, remitted to Mr. Morris, and expended by him 
in this charity. Letters were received from Mr. Morris, 
expressing the gratitude of the emigrants for this large 
and timely aid, which was principally the means of 


keeping them from starvation." The whole of these 
emigrants are now in easy circumstances. 

Commenting on the conduct of those in power, who sent 
out their poor tenantry totally unprovided for, is un- 
necessary. The idea of sending out a minister and noth- 
ing else, in such circumstances, makes one shudder to 
think of the uses which are sometimes made of the clergy, 
and how, in such cases, the Gospel they are supposed 
not only to preach but to practise, is only in many 
instances caricatured. The provisions sent by the 
Society had to be forwarded to where these starving 
emigrants were, a distance of 80 miles from Sherbrooke, 
on sledges, through a trackless and dense forest. The 
descendants of these people now form a happy and pros- 
perous community at Lingwick and Winslow. 



This small property, in the Parish of L,ochbroom, 
changed hands in 1879, Mr. A. C. Pirie, paper manu- 
facturer, Aberdeen, having purchased it for 19,000 
from Colonel Davidson, now of Tulloch. No sooner 
did it come into Mr. Pirie' s possession than a notice, dated 
2nd November, 1879, in the following terms, was issued 
to all the tenants : 

" I am instructed by Mr. Pirie, proprietor of L,eckmelm, 
to give you notice that the present arrangements by which 
you hold the cottage, byre, and other buildings, together 
with lands on that estate, will cease from and after the 
term of Martinmas, 1880 ' and further, I am instructed 
to intimate to you that at the said term of Martinmas, 
1880, Mr. Pirie purposes taking the whole arable and 
pasture lands, but that he is desirous of making arrange- 
ments whereby you may continue tenant of the cottage 
upon terms and conditions yet to be settled upon. I 
have further to inform you that unless you and the other 


tenants at once prevent your sheep and other stock from 
grazing or trespassing upon the enclosures and hill, and 
other lands now in the occupation or possession of the 
said Mr. Pirie, he will not, upon any conditions, permit 
you to remain in the cottage you now occupy, after the 
said term of Martinmas, 1880, but will clear all off the 
estate, and take down the cottages." 

This notice affected twenty- three families, numbering 
above one hundred souls. Sixteen tenants paid between 
them a rent of 96 IDS. ranging from 3 to 12 each per 
annum. The stock allowed them was 72 head of cattle, 
8 horses, and 320 sheep. The arable portion of lyeckmelm 
was about the best tilled and the most productive land 
in possession of any crofters in the parish. It could all be 
worked with the plough, now a very uncommon thing in 
the Highlands j for almost invariably land of that class 
is in the hands of the proprietors themselves, when not 
let to sheep farmers or sportsmen. The intention of the 
new proprietor was strictly carried out. At Martinmas, 
1880, he took every inch of land arable and pastoral 
into his own hands, and thus by one cruel stroke, reduced 
a comfortable tenantry from comparative affluence and 
independence to the position of mere cottars and day 
labourers, absolutely dependent for subsistence on his 
own will and the likes or dislikes of his subordinates, 
who may perhaps, for a short time, be in a position to 
supply the remnant that will remain, in their altered cir- 
cumstances, with such common labour as trenching, 
draining, fencing, carrying stones, lime and mortar, for 
the laird's mansion-house and outhouses. With the 
exception of one, all the tenants who remained are still 
permitted to live in their old cottages, but they are not 
permitted to keep a living thing about them not even a 
hen. They are existing in a state of abject dependence 
on Mr. Pirie' s will and that of his servants ; and in a 
constant state of terror that next they will even be turned 
out of their cottages. As regards work and the neces- 
saries of life, they have been reduced to that of common 
navvies. In place of milk, butter, and cheese in fair 
abundance, they have now to be satisfied with sugar, 


treacle, or whatever else they can buy, to their porridge 
and potatoes, and their supply of meat, grown and fed 
hitherto by themselves, is gone for ever. Two, a man and 
his wife, if not more, have since been provided for by the 
Parochial authorities, and, no doubt, that will ultimately 
be the fate of many more of this once thriving and con- 
tented people. 

An agitation against Mr. Pirie's conduct was raised at 
the time, and the advantage which he had taken of his 
position was universally condemned by the press (ex- 
cepting the Scotsman, of course), and by the general 
public voice of the country ; but conscious of his strength, 
and that the law, made by the landlords in their 
own interest, was on his side, he relentlessly and per- 
sistently carried out his cruel purpose to the bitter end, 
and evicted from their lands and hill grazings every soul 
upon his property ; but in the meantime allowed them to 
remain in their cottages, with the exception of Donald 
Munro, to whose case reference will be made hereafter, 
and two other persons whose houses were pulled down 
and themselves evicted. 

When the notices of removal were received, the Rev. 
John MacMillan, Free Church minister of the parish, 
called public attention to Mr. Pirie's proceedings in the 
Northern newspapers, and soon the eye of the whole 
country was directed to this modern evictor a man, in 
other respects, reputed considerate and even kind to 
those under him in his business of paper manufacturing 
in Aberdeen. People, in their simplicity, for years back, 
thought that evictions on such a large scale, in the face 
of a more enlightened public opinion, had become mere 
unpleasant recollections of a barbarous past ; forgetting 
that the same laws which permitted the clearances of 
Sutherland and other portions of the Scottish Highlands 
during the first half of the present century were still in 
force, ready to be applied by any tyrant who had the 
courage, for personal ends, to outrage the more advanced 
and humane public opinion of the present generation. 

The noble conduct of the Rev. Mr. MacMillan, in con- 
nection with those evictions, deserves commemoration in 


a work in which the name of his prototype in Sutherland, 
the Rev. Mr. Sage, shows to such advantage during the 
infamous clearances in that county, already described 
at length. At the urgent request of many friends of the 
Highland crofters, resident in Inverness, Mr. MacMillan 
agreed to lay the case of his evicted parishioners before 
the public. Early in December, 1880, he delivered an 
address in Inverness to one of the largest and most 
enthusiastic meetings which has ever been held in that 
town, and we cannot do better here than quote at con- 
siderable length from his instructive eloquent, and rousing 
appeal on that occasion. Though his remarks do not seem 
to have influenced Mr. Pirie's conduct, or to have bene- 
fited his unfortunate subjects, the Inverness meeting was 
the real beginning in earnest of the subsequent movement 
throughout the Highlands in favour of Land Reform, 
and the curtailment of landlord power over their unfor- 
tunate tenants. Mr. Pirie can thus claim to have done 
our poorer countrymen no small amount of good, though 
probably, quite contrary to his intentions, by his cruel 
and high-handed conduct in dealing with the ancient 
tenants of Leckmelm. He has set the heather on fire, 
and it is likely to continue burning until such proceedings 
as those for which he is responsible at Leckmelm will be 
finally made impossible in Scotland. Mr. MacMillan 
after informing his audience that Mr. Pirie " is now in a 
fair way of reaching a notoriety which he little dreamt 
of when he became owner of the Leckmelm estate," pro- 
ceeds to tell how the harsh proceedings were gone about, 
and says : 

" As the public are aware, Mr. Pirie's first step after 
becoming owner of the estate, was to inform the tenantry, 
by the hands of Mr. Manners, C.E., Inverness, that at 
Martinmas following they were to deliver their arable 
land and stock, consisting of sheep and cattle, into his 
hands, but that some of them, on conditions yet to be 
revealed, and on showing entire submission to the new 
regime of things, and, withal, a good certificate of char- 
acter from his factotum, William Gould, might remain 
in their cottages to act as serfs or slaves on his farm. On 


this conditional promise they were to live in the best of 
hope, for the future and all at the mercy of the absolute 
master of the situation, with a summum jus at his back 
to enable him to effect all the purposes of his heart. As 
a prologue to the drama which was to follow, and to give a 
sample of what they might expect in the sequel, two acts 
were presented, or properly speaking, one act in two parts. 
These were to prepare them for what was to come, re- 
minding us of what we read somewhere in our youth, 
of a husband who on marrying his fair spouse wished to 
teach her prompt obedience to all his commands, what- 
ever their character. His first lesson in this direction 
was one assuredly calculated to strike terror into her 
tender breast. It was the shooting on the spot of the 
horse which drew his carriage or conveyance, on showing 
some slight restiveness. The second lesson was of a 
similar nature ; we can easily imagine that his object was 
gained. Then, after coming home, he commanded his 
spouse to untie his boots and shoes, and take them off, 
and to engage in the most servile acts. Of course prompt 
obedience was given to all these commands and his end 
was gained. His wife was obedient to him to the last 
degree. Of the wisdom and propriety of such a pro- 
cedure in a husband towards his lawful wife, I shall not 
here and now wait to enquire, but one thing is plain to us 
all \ there was a species of earthly and carnal wisdom in 
it which was entirely overshadowed by its cruelty. 

Now this illustrates exactly how Mr. Pirie acted towards 
the people of I,eckmelm. To strike terror into their 
hearts, first of all, two houses were pulled down, I might 
say about the ears of their respective occupants,without 
any warning whatever, except a verbal one of the shortest 
kind. The first was a deaf pauper woman, about middle 
life, living alone for years in a bothy of her own, alto- 
gether apart from the other houses, beside a purling 
stream, where she had at all seasons pure water to drink 
if her bread was at times somewhat scanty. After this 
most cruel eviction no provision was made for the helpless 
woman, but she was allowed to get shelter elsewhere or 
anywhere, as best she could. If any of you ever go the 


way of Leckmelm you can see a gamekeeper's house, the 
gentry of our land, close to the side of Iseabal Bheag's 
bothy, and a dog kennel quite in its neighbourhood, or 
as I said in one of my letters, adorning it. This then is 
act the first of this drama. Act second comes next. 
Mrs. Campbell was a widow with two children ; after 
the decease of her husband she tried to support herself 
and them by serving in gentlemen's families as a servant. 
Whether she was all the time in Tulloch's family I cannot 
say, but, at all events, it was from that family she re- 
turned to Leckmelm, in failing health, and on getting 
rather heavy for active service. Of course her father had 
died since she had left, and the house in which he lived 
and died, and in which in all likelihood he had reared 
his family, and in which he was born and bred, was now 
tenantless. It was empty, the land attached to it being 
in the hands of another person. Here Widow Campbell 
turned aside for a while until something else would in 
kind Providence turn up. But, behold, during her 
sojourn from her native township, another king arose, 
who knew not Joseph, and the inexorable edict had gone 
forth to raze her habitation to the ground. Her house 
also was pulled down about her ears. This woman has 
since gone to America, the asylum of many an evicted 
family from hearth and home. Such tragedies as I have 
mentioned roused some of us to remonstrate with the 
actors engaged in them, and to the best of our ability 
to expose their conduct, and, furthermore, we have 
brought them to the bar of public judgment to pass their 
verdict, which I hope before all is over, will be one of 
condemnation and condign punishment." 

Having referred at some length to the worst classes of 
evictions throughout the Highlands in the past, and 
already described in this work, the reverend lecturer 
proceeded : 

" But there is another way, a more gentle, politic, and 
insinuating way at work which depopulates our country 
quite as effectually as the wholesale clearances of which 
we have been speaking and against which we protest, and 
to which we must draw your attention for a little. There 


are many proprietors who get the name of being good and 
kind to their tenants, and who cannot be charged with 
evicting any of them save for misbehaviour a deserving 
cause at all times who are nevertheless inch by inch 
secretly and stealthily laying waste the country and 
undermining the well-being of our people. I have some 
of these gentlemen before my mind at this moment. 
When they took possession of their estates all promised 
fair and well, but by-and-bye the fatal blow was struck, 
to dispossess the people of their sheep. Mark that first 
move and resist it to the utmost. As long as tenants have 
a hold of the hill pasture by sheep, and especially if it be 
what we term a commonage or club farm, it is impossible 
to lay it waste in part. But once you snap this tie 
asunder, you are henceforth at the mercy of the owner 
to do with you as he pleases. This then is how the 
business is transacted, and in the most business-like 
fashion too. To be sure none are to be forcibly evicted 
from their holdings : that would be highly impolitic, 
because it would bring public condemnation on the 
sacred heads of the evictors, which some of them could in 
no way confront, for they have a character and a name 
to sustain, and also because they are more susceptible 
to the failings common to humanity. They are moving, 
too, in the choicest circles of society. It would not do 
that their names should be figuring in every newspaper 
in the land, as cruel and oppressive landlords, or that the 
Rev. this and the Rev. that should excommunicate 
them from society and stigmatise them as tyrants and 
despots. But all are not so sensitive as this of name and 
character, as we see abundantly demonstrated, because 
they have none to lose. You might expose them upon a 
gibbet before the gaze of an assembled universe and they 
would hardly blush, " they are harder than the nether 
mill-stone." But the more sensitive do their work, all 
the same, after all, and it is done in this fashion. When a 
tenant dies, or removes otherwise, the order goes forth 
that his croft or lot is to be laid waste. It is not given 
to a neighbouring tenant, except in some instances, nor 
to a stranger, to occupy it. In this inch-by-inch clear- 


ance, the work of depopulation is effected in a few years, 
or in a generation at most, quite as effectually as by the 
more glaring and reprehensible method. This more 
secret and insinuating way of depopulating our native 
land should be as stoutly resisted as the more open and 
defiant one, the result it produces being the same." 

Describing the character of the Highlanders, as shown 
by their conduct in our Highland regiments, and the im- 
possibility of recruiting from them in future, if harsh 
evictions are not stopped, the reverend gentlemen con- 
tinued : 

" Let me give you words more eloquent than mine 
on this point, which will show the infatuation of our 
Government in allowing her bravest soldiers to be driven 
to foreign lands and to be crushed and oppressed by the 
tyrant's rod. After having asked, What have these 
people done against the State, when they were so remorse- 
lessly driven from their native shores, year by year in 
batches of thousands ? What class have they wronged 
that they should suffer a penalty so dreadful ? this 
writer* gives the answer : ' They have done no wrong. 
Yearly they have sent forth their thousands from their 
glens to follow the battle flag of Britain wherever it flew. 
It was a Highland rearlorn hope that followed the broken 
wreck of Cumberland's army after the disastrous day at 
Fontenoy, when more British soldiers lay dead upon the 
field than fell at Waterloo itself. It was another High- 
land regiment that scaled the rock-face over the St. 
Lawrence, and first formed a line in the September 
dawn on the level sward of Abraham. It was a High- 
land line that broke the power of the Maharatta hordes 
and gave Wellington his maiden victory at Assaye. 
Thirty-four battalions marched from these glens to fight 
in America, Germany, and India ere the i8th century had 
run its course \ and yet, while abroad over the earth, 
Highlanders were the first in assault and the last in re- 
treat, their lowly homes in far away glens were being 
dragged down, and the wail of women and the cry of 

* Major W. S. Butler in MacMillan's Magazine for May, 1878. 


children went out on the same breeze that bore too upon 
its wings the scent of heather, the freshness of gorse 
blossom, and the myriad sweets that made the lowly life 
of Scotland's peasantry blest with health and happiness. 
These are crimes done in the dark hours of strife, and 
amid the blaze of man's passions, that sometimes make 
the blood run cold as we read them ; but they are not so 
terrible in their red-handed vengeance as the cold malig- 
nity of a civilized law, which permits a brave and noble 
race to disappear by the operation of its legalised in- 
justice. To convert the Highland glens into vast wastes 
untenanted by human beings ; to drive forth to distant 
and inhospitable shores men whose forefathers had held 
their own among these hills, despite Roman legion, Saxon 
archer, or Norman chivalry, men whose sons died freely 
for England's honour through those wide dominions 
their bravery had won for her. Such was the work of 
laws formed in a cruel mockery of name by the Com- 
mons of England. Thus it was, that about the year 
1808 the stream of Highland soldiery, which had been 
gradually ebbing, gave symptoms of running completely 
dry. Recruits for Highland regiments could not be 
obtained for the simple reason that the Highlands had 
been depopulated. Six regiments which from the date 
of their foundation had worn the kilt and bonnet were 
ordered to lay aside their distinctive uniform and hence- 
forth became merged into the ordinary line corps. From 
the mainland the work of destruction passed rapidly to 
the isles. These remote resting-places of the Celt were 
quickly cleared, during the first ten years of the great 
war, Skye had given 4000 of its sons to the army. It has 
been computed that 1600 Skyemen stood in the ranks at 
Waterloo. To-day in Skye, far as the eye can reach, 
nothing but a bare brown waste is to be seen, where still 
the mounds and ruined gables rise over the melancholy 
landscapes, sole vestiges of a soldier race for ever passed 
away.' ' 

In January, 1882, news had reached Inverness that 
Murdo Munro, one of the most comfortable tenants on 
the L,eckmelm property, had been turned out, with his 


wife and young family, in the snow ; whereupon the 
writer started to enquire into the facts, and spent a whole 
day among the people. What he had seen proved to be 
as bad as any of the evictions of the past, except that it 
applied in this instance only to one family. Murdo 
Munro was too independent for the local managers, and 
to some extent led the people in their opposition to Mr. 
Pirie's proceedings : he was first persecuted and after- 
wards evicted in the most cruel fashion. Other reasons 
were afterwards given for the manner in which this poor 
man and his family were treated, but it has been shown 
conclusively, in a report published at the time, that these 
reasons were an after-thought.* From this report we 
shall quote a few extracts : 

" So long as the laws of the land permit men like Mr. 
Pirie to drive from the soil, without compensation, the 
men who, by their labour and money, made their pro- 
perties what they are, it must be admitted that he is 
acting within his legal rights, however much we may de- 
plore the manner in which he has chosen to exercise them. 
We have to deal more with the system which allows him 
to act thus, than with the special reasons which he con- 
siders sufficient to justify his proceedings \ and if his con- 
duct in Leckmelm will, as I trust it may, hasten on a 
change in our land legislation, the hardships endured 
by the luckless people who had the misfortune to come 
under his unfeeling yoke and his ideas of moral right and 
wrong, will be more than counterbalanced by the benefits 
which will ultimately accrue to the people at large. This 
is why I, and I believe the public, take such an interest 
in this question of the evictions at Leckmelm. 

" I have made the most careful and complete inquiry 
possible among Mr. Pirie's servants, the tenants, and the 
people of Ullapool. Mr. Pirie's local manager, after I 
had informed him of my object, and put him on his guard 
as to the use which I might make of his answers, informed 

* See pamphlet published at the time entitled Report on the 
Leckmelm Evictions, by Alexander Mackenzie, F.S.A., Scot., 
Editor of the " Celtic Magazine,"" and Dean of Guild of 


me that he never had any fault to find with Munro, that 
he always found him quite civil, and that he had nothing 
to say against him. The tenants, without exception, 
spoke of him as a good neighbour. The people of Ulla- 
pool, without exception, so far as I could discover, 
after enquiries from the leading men in every section of 
the community, speak well of him, and condemn Mr. 
Pirie. Munro is universally spoken of as one of the best 
and most industrious workmen in the whole parish, 
and, by his industry and sobriety, he has been able to 
save a little money in Leckmelm, where he was able to 
keep a fairly good stock on his small farm, and worked 
steadily with a horse and cart. The stock handed over 
by him to Mr. Pirie consisted of i bull, 2 cows, i stirk, 
i Highland pony, and about 40 sheep, which represented a 
considerable, saving. Several of the other tenants had a 
similar stock, and some of them had even more, all of 
which they had to dispense with under the new arrange- 
ments, and consequently lost the annual income in money 
and produce available therefrom. We all know that 
the sum received for this stock cannot last long, and 
cannot be advantageously invested in anything else. 
The people must now live on their small capital, instead 
of what it produced, so long as it lasts, after which they 
are sure to be helpless, and many of them become charge- 
able to the parish. 

" The system of petty tyranny which prevails at Leck- 
melm is scarcely credible. Contractors have been told 
not to employ Munro. For this I have the authority 
of some of the contractors themselves. Local employers 
of labour were requested not to employ any longer people 
who had gone to look on among the crowd, while Munro's 
family, goods, and furniture, were being turned out. 
Letters were received by others complaining of the same 
thing from higher quarters, and threatening ulterior 
consequences. Of all this I have the most complete 
evidence, but in the interests of those involved, I shall 
mention no names, except in Court, where I challenge Mr. 
Pirie and his subordinates to the proof if they deny it. 


" The extract in the action of removal was signed only 
on the 24th of January last in Dingwall. On the follow- 
ing day the charge is dated, and two days after, on the 
27th of January, the eviction is complete. When I visited 
the scene on Friday morning, I found a substantially built 
cottage, and a stable at the end of it, unroofed to within 
three feet of the top on either side, and the whole surround- 
ings a perfect scene of desolation * the thatch, and part of 
the furniture, including portions of broken bedsteads, tubs, 
basins, teapots, and various other articles, strewn outside. 
The cross-beams, couples, and cabars were still there, 
a portion of the latter brought from Mr. Pirie's manager, 
and paid for within the last three years. The Sheriff 
officers had placed a padlock on the door, but I made 
my way to the inside of the house through one of the 
windows from which the frame and glass had been re- 
moved. I found that the house, before the partitions 
had been removed, consisted of two good-sized rooms and 
a closet, with fireplace and chimney in each gable, the 
crook still hanging in one of them, the officer having 
apparently been unable to remove it after a considerable 
amount of wrenching. The kitchen window, containing 
eight panes of glass, was still whole, but the closet win- 
dow, with four panes, had been smashed ; while the one 
in the " ben " end of the house had been removed. The 
cottage, as crofters' houses go, must have been fairly 
comfortable. Indeed, the cottages in Leckmelm are alto- 
gether superior to the usual run of crofters' houses on the 
West Coast, and the tenants are allowed to have been the 
most comfortable in all respects in the parish, before the 
land was taken from them. They are certainly not the 
poor, miserable creatures, badly housed, which Mr. 
Pirie and his friends led the public to believe within the 
last two years. 

" The barn in which the wife and infant had to remain 
all night had the upper part of both gables blown out by 
the recent storm, and the door was scarcely any pro- 
tection from the weather. The potatoes, which had been 
thrown out in showers of snow, were still there, gathered 
and a little earth put over them by the friendly neighbours, 


" The mother and children wept piteously during the 
eviction, and many of the neighbours, afraid to succour 
or shelter them, were visibly affected to tears * and the 
whole scene was such that, if Mr. Pirie could have seen 
it, I feel sure that he would never consent to be held re- 
sponsible for another. His humanity would soon drive 
his stern ideas of legal right out of his head, and we would 
hear no more of evictions at Leckmelm." 

Those of the tenants who are still at Leckmelm are 
permitted to remain in their cottages as half-yearly ten- 
ants on payment of 12s. per annum, but liable to be re- 
moved at any moment that their absolute lord may take 
it into his head to evict them ; or, what is much more 
precarious, when they may give the slightest offence to 
any of his meanest subordinates. 



The following account was written in April, 1882, after 
a most careful enquiry on the spot : So much whitewash 
has been distributed in our Northern newspapers of late 
by " Local Correspondents," in the interest of personal 
friends who are responsible for the Lochcarron evictions 
the worst and most indefensible that have ever been 
attempted even in the Highlands that we consider it a 
duty to state the actual facts. We are really sorry for 
those more immediately concerned, but our friendly 
feeling for them otherwise cannot be allowed to come 
between us and our plain duty. A few days before the 
famous " Battle of the Braes," in the Isle of Skye, we 
received information that summonses of ejectment 
were served on Mackenzie and Maclean, Lochcarron. 
The writer at once communicated with Mr. Dugald 
Stuart, the proprietor, intimating to him the statements 
received, and asking him if they were accurate, and if 
Mr. Stuart had anything to say in explanation of them. 
Mr. Stuart immediately replied, admitting the accuracy 
of the statements generally, but maintaining that he had 



good and valid reasons for carrying out the evictions, 
which he expressed himself anxious to explain to us on the 
following day, while passing through Inverness on his 
way South. Unfortunately, his letter reached us too 
late, and we were unable to see him. The only reason 
which he vouchsafed to give in his letter was to the fol- 
lowing effect : " Was it at all likely that he, a High- 
lander, born and brought up in the Highlands, the son 
of a Highlander, and married to a Highland lady, would 
be guilty of evicting any of his tenants without good 
cause ? " We replied that, unfortunately, all these 
reasons could be urged by most of those who had in the 
past depopulated the country, but expressing a hope that, 
in his case, the facts stated by him would prove sufficient 
to restrain him from carrying out his determination to 
evict parents admittedly innocent of their sons' proceed- 
ings, even if those proceedings were unjustifiable. Early 
in April, 1882, we proceeded to Lochcarron to make 
enquiry on the spot, and the writer on his return from 
Skye a few days later reported as follows to the High- 
land Land Law Reform Association : 

" Of all the cases of eviction which have hitherto come 
under rny notice I never heard of any so utterly unjustifi- 
able as those now in course of being carried out by Mr. D. 
Stuart in Lochcarron. The circumstances which led 
up to these evictions are as follows : In March, 1881, two 
young men, George Mackenzie and Donald Maclean, 
masons, entered into a contract with Mr. Stuart's ground 
officer for the erection of a sheep fank, and a dispute 
afterwards arose as to the payment for the work. When 
the factor, Mr. Donald Macdonald, Tormore, was some 
time afterwards collecting the rents in the district, the 
contractors approached him and related their grievance 
against the ground officer, who, while the men were in the 
room, came in and addressed them in libellous and 
defamatory language, for which they have since obtained 
substantial damages and expenses, in all amounting to 
22 133. 8d., in the Sheriff Court of the County. I have a 
certified copy of the whole proceedings in Court in my 
possession, and, without going into the merits, what I 


have just stated is the result, and Mr. Stuart and his 
ground officer became furious. 

" The contractors are two single men who live with 
their parents, the latter being crofters on Mr. Stuart's 
property, and as the real offenders if such can be called 
men who have stood up for and succeeded in establishing 
their rights and their characters in Court could not be 
got at, Mr. Stuart issued summonses of ejection against 
their parents parents who, in one of the cases at least, 
strongly urged his son not to proceed against the ground 
officer, pointing out to him that an eviction might possibly 
ensue, and that it was better even to suffer in character 
and purse than run the risk of eviction from his holding 
at the age of eighty. We have all heard of the doctrine 
of visiting the sins of the parents upon the children, but 
it has been left for Mr. Dugald Stuart of Ivochcarron and 
his ground officer, in the present generation the highly- 
favoured nineteenth century to reverse all this, and to 
punish the unoffending parents, for proceedings on the 
part of their children which the Sheriff of the County and 
all unprejudiced people who know the facts consider fully 

" Now, so far as I can discover, after careful enquiry 
among the men's neighbours and in the village of Loch- 
carron, nothing can be said against either of them. 
Their characters are in every respect above suspicion. 
The ground officer, whom I have seen, admits all this, and 
makes no pretence that the eviction is for any other 
reason than the conduct of the young men in prosecuting 
and succeeding against himself in the Sheriff Court for 
defamation of character. Maclean paid rent for his 
present holding for the last sixty years, and never failed 
to pay it on the appointed day. His father, grandfather, 
and great-grandfather occupied the same place, and so 
did their ancestors before them. Indeed, his grand- 
father held one-half of the township, now occupied by 
more than a hundred people. The old man is in his 8ist 
year, and bed-ridden on his death-bed in fact since 
the middle of January last, he having then had a paralytic 
stroke from which it is quite impossible he can ever 


recover. It was most pitiable to see the aged and frail 
human wreck as I saw him that day, and to have heard 
him talking of the cruelty and hard-heartedness of those 
who took advantage of the existing law to push him out 
of the home which he has occupied so long, while he is 
already on the brink of eternity. I quite agreed with 
him, and I have no hesitation in saying that if Mr. Stuart 
and his ground officer only called to see the miserable 
old man, as I did, their hearts, however adamantine, 
would melt, and they would at once declare to him that 
he would be allowed to end his days, and die in peace, 
under the roof which for generations had sheltered 
himself and his ancestors. The wife is over 70 years of 
age, and the frail old couple have no one to succour them 
but the son who has been the cause, by defending his own 
character, of their present misfortunes. Whatever Mr. 
Stuart and his ground officer may do, or attempt to do, 
the old man will not, and cannot be evicted until he is 
carried to the churchyard ; and it would be far more 
gracious on their part to relent and allow the old man to 
die in peace. 

" Mackenzie has paid rent for over 40 years, and his 
ancestors have done so for several generations before 
him. He is nearly sixty years of age, and is highly 
popular among his neighbours, all of whom are intensely 
grieved at Mr. Stuart's cruel and hard-hearted conduct 
towards him and Maclean, and they still hope that he 
will not proceed to extremities. 

" The whole case is a lamentable abuse of the existing 
law, and such as will do more to secure its abolition, 
when the facts are fully known, than all the other cases of 
eviction which have taken place in the Highlands during 
the present generation. There is no pretence that the 
case is anything else than a gross and cruel piece of re- 
taliation against the innocent parents for conduct on the 
part of their sons which must have been very aggravating 
to this proprietor and his ground officer, who appear to 
think themselves fully justified in perpetuating such acts 
of grossest cruelty and injustice." 

This report was slightly noticed at the time in the local 


and Glasgow newspapers, and attention was thus directed 
to Mr. Stuart's proceedings. His whole conduct ap- 
peared so cruelly tyrannical that most people expected 
him to relent before the day of eviction arrived. But not 
so ; a sheriff officer and his assistants from Dingwall 
duly arrived, and proceeded to turn Mackenzie's furni- 
ture out of his house. People congregated from all parts 
of the district, some of them coming more than twenty 
miles. The sheriff officer sent for the Lochcarron police- 
men to aid him, but, notwithstanding, the law which 
admitted of such unmitigated cruelty and oppression was 
set at defiance ; the sheriff officers were deforced, and the 
furniture returned to the house by the sympathising 
crowd. What was to be done next ? The Procurator- 
Fiscal for the county was Mr. Stuart's law agent in carry- 
ing out the evictions. How could he criminally prosecute 
for deforcement in these circumstances ? The Crown 
authorities found themselves in a dilemma, and through 
the tyranny of the proprietor on the one hand, and the 
interference of the Procurator-Fiscal in civil business 
which has ended in public disturbance and deforcement 
of the Sheriff's officers, on the other, the Crown authorities 
found themselves helpless to vindicate the law. This is a 
pity ; for all right-thinking people have almost as little 
sympathy for law breakers, even when that law is unjust 
and cruel, as they have for those cruel landlords who, like 
Mr. Stuart of Lochcarron, bring the law and his own order 
into disrepute by the oppressive application of it against 
innocent people. The proper remedy is to have the law 
abolished, not to break it ; and to bring this about such 
conduct as that of Mr. Stuart and his ground officer is 
more potent than all the Land Leagues and Reform Asso- 
ciations in the United Kingdom.* 

Mr. William Mackenzie of the A berdeen Free Press, who 
was on the ground, writes, next morning, after the de- 
forcement of the sheriff officers : 

" During the encounter the local police constable drew 
his baton, but he was peremptorily ordered to lay it 

* Celtic Magazine for July, 1882. 


down, and he did so. The officers then gave up the con- 
test and left the place about three in the morning. 
Yesterday, before they left, and in course of the evening, 
they were offered refreshments, but these they declined. 
The people are this evening in possession as before. 

" When every article was restored to its place, the song 
and the dance were resumed, the native drink was freely 
quaffed for ' freedom an' whisky gang thegither ' the 
steam was kept up throughout the greater part of yester- 
day, and Mackenzie's mantelpiece to-day is adorned with 
a long tier of empty bottles, standing there as monuments 
of the eventful night of the 29th-30th May, 1882. 

A chuirm sgaoilte chualas an ce61 
Ard-sholas an talla nan treun ! 

" While these things were going on in the quiet town- 
ship of Slumbay, the Fiery Cross appears to have been 
despatched over the neighbouring parishes ; and frmo 
Kintail, Lochalsh, Applecross, and even Gairloch, the 
Highlanders began to gather yesterday with the view of 
helping the Slumbay men, if occasion should arise. Few 
of these reached Slumbay, but they were in small detach- 
ments in the neighbourhood ready at any moment to 
come to the rescue on the appearance of any hostile 
force. After all the trains had come and gone for the 
day, and as neither policemen nor Sheriff's officers had 
appeared on the scene, these different groups retired to 
their respective places of abode. The Slumbay men, too, 
resolved to suspend their festivities. A procession was 
formed, and, being headed by the piper, they marched 
triumphantly through Slumbay and Jeantown, and 
escorted some of the strangers on their way to their 
homes, returning to Slumbay in course of the night." 

As a contrast to Mr. Stuart's conduct we are glad to 
record the noble action of Mr. C. J. Murray, M.P. for 
Hastings, who has, fortunately for the oppressed tenants 
on the Lochcarron property, just purchased the estate. 
He has made it a condition that Maclean and Makenzie 
shall be allowed to remain ; and a further public scandal 
has thus been avoided. This is a good beginning for the 


new proprietor, and we trust to see his action as widely 
circulated and commended as the tyrannical proceedings 
of his predecessor have been condemned. 

It is also fair to state what we know on the very best 
authority, namely, that the factor on the estate, Mr. 
Donald Macdonald, Tormore, strongly urged upon Mr. 
Stuart not to evict these people, and that his own wife 
also implored and begged of him not to carry out his cruel 
and vindictive purpose. Where these agencies failed, it 
is gratifying to find that Mr. Murray has succeeded 
and all parties landlords and tenants throughout the 
Highlands are to be congratulated on the result. 


In connection with the evictions from the County of 
Ross, the following will appropriately come in at this 
stage. Referring to the glorious deeds of the 78th High- 
landers in India, under General Havelock, the editor of 
the Northern Ensign writes : All modern history, from 
the rebellion in 1715, to the Cawnpore massacre of 1857, 
teems with the record of Highland bravery and prowess. 
What say our Highland evicting lairds to these facts, 
and to the treatment of the Highlanders ? What re- 
ward have these men received for saving their country, 
fighting its battles, conquering its enemies, turring the 
tide of revolt, rescuing women and children from the 
hands of Indian fiends, and establishing order, when 
disorder and bloody cruelty have held their murderous 
carnival ? And we ask, in the name of men who have, ere 
now, we fondly hope, saved our gallant countrymen 
and heroic countrywomen at Lucknow \ in the name of 
those who fought in the trenches of Sebastopol, and 
proudly planted the British standard on the heights of 
the Alma, how are they, their fathers, brothers, and little 
ones treated ? Is the mere shuttle-cocking of an irre- 
pressible cry of admiration from mouth to mouth, and the 
setting to music of a song in their praise, all the return 
the race is to get for such noble acts ? We can fancy the 
expression of admiration of Highland bravery at the 


Dunrobin dinner table, recently, when the dukes, earls, 
lairds, and other aristocratic notables enjoyed the princely 
hospitality of the Duke. We can imagine the mutual 
congratulations of the Highland lairds as they prided 
themselves on being proprietors of the soil which gave 
birth to the race of " Highland heroes." Alas, for the 
blush that would cover their faces if they would allow 
themselves to reflect that, in their names, and by their 
authority, and at their expense, the fathers, mothers, 
brothers, wives, of the invincible " 78th " have been 
remorselessly driven from their native soil ; and that, at 
the very hour when Cawnpore was gallantly retaken, 
and the ruffian, Nana Sahib, was obliged to leave the 
bloody scene of his fiendish massacre, there were High- 
landers, within a few miles of the princely Dunrobin, 
driven from their homes and left to starve and to die in 
the open field. Alas, for the blush that would reprint 
its scarlet dye on their proud faces as they thought in 
one county alone, since Waterloo was fought, more than 
14,000 of this same " race of heroes " of whom Canning 
so proudly boasted, have been hunted out of their 
native homes ; and that where the pibroch and the bugle 
once evoked the martial spirit of thousands of brave 
hearts, razed and burning cottages have formed the tragic 
scenes of eviction and desolation ; and the abodes of a 
loyal and a liberty-loving people are made sacred to the 
rearing of sheep, and sanctified to the preservation of 
game ! Yes ; we echo back the cry, " Well done, brave 
Highlanders ! " But to what purpose would it be carried 
on the wings of the wind to the once happy straths and 
glens of Sutherland ? Who, what, would echo back our 
acclaims of praise ? Perhaps a shepherd's or a gillie's 
child, pla} T ing amid the unbroken wilds, and innocent 
of seeing a human face but that of its own parents, would 
hear it \ or the cry might startle a herd of timid deer, or 
frighten a covey of partridges, or call forth a bleat from a 
herd of sheep ; but men would not, could not, hear it. 
We must go to the backwoods of Canada, to Detroit, to 
Hamilton, to Woodstock, to Toronto, to Montreal j we 
must stand by the waters of Lake Huron or Lake Ontario, 


where the cry " Well done, brave Highlanders ! " would 
call up a thousand brawny fellows, and draw down a tear 
on a thousand manly cheeks. Or we must go to the bare 
rocks that skirt the sea-coast of Sutherland, where the 
residuary population were generously treated to barren 
steeps and inhospitable shores, on which to keep up the 
breed of heroes, and fight for the men who dared dared 
to drive them from houses for which they fought, and 
from land which was purchased with the blood of their 
fathers. But the cry, " Well done, brave Highlanders," 
would evoke no effective response from the race. Need 
the reader wonder ? Wherefore should they fight ? 
To what purpose did their fathers climb the Peninsular 
heights and gloriously write in blood the superiority of 
Britain, when their sons were rewarded by extirpation, or 
toleration to starve, in sight of fertile straths and glens 
devoted to beasts ? These are words of truth and sober- 
ness. They are but repetitions in other forms of argu- 
ments, employed by us for years ; and we shall continue 
to ring changes on them so long as our brave Highland 
people are subjected to treatment to which no other 
race would have submitted. We are no alarmists. But 
we tell Highland proprietors that were Britain some 
twenty years hence to have the misfortune to be plunged 
into such a crisis as the present, there will be few such 
men as the Highlanders of the 78th to fight her battles, 
and that the country will find when too late, if another 
policy towards the Highlanders is not adopted, that sheep 
and deer, ptarmigan and grouse, can do but little to save 
it in such a calamity. 


Dr. John Kennedy, the highly, deservedly respected, 
and eminent minister of Dingwall so long resident among 
the scenes which he describes, and so intimately ac- 
quainted with all classes of the people in his native 

* The Days of the Fathers in Ros* -shire, 1*61, pp 15, 16. 


county of Ross, informs us that it was at a time when the 
Highlanders became most distinguished as the most 
peaceable and virtuous peasantry in the world " at the 
climax of their spiritual prosperity," in Ross-shire 
" that the cruel work of eviction began to lay waste the 
hill-sides and the plains of the North. Swayed by the 
example of the godly among them, and away from the 
influences by which less sequestered localities were 
corrupted, the body of the people in the Highlands 
became distinguished as the most peaceable and virtuous 
peasantry in Britain. It was just then that they began 
to be driven off by ungodly oppressors, to clear their 
native soil for strangers, red deer, and sheep. With few 
exceptions, the owners of the soil began to act as if they 
were also owners of the people, and, disposed to regard 
them as the vilest part of their estate, they treated them 
without respect to the requirements of righteousness or 
to the dictates of mercy. Without the inducement of 
gain, in the recklessness of cruelty, families by hundreds 
were driven across the sea, or gathered, as the sweepings 
of the hill-sides, into wretched hamlets on the shore. 
By wholesale evictions, wastes were formed for the red 
deer, that the gentry of the nineteenth century might 
indulge in the sports of the savages of three centuries 
before. Of many happy households sheep walks were 
cleared for strangers, who, fattening amidst the ruined 
homes of the banished, corrupted by their example the 
few natives who remained. Meanwhile their rulers, 
while deaf to the Highlanders' cry of oppression, were 
wasting their sinews and their blood on battle-fields, that, 
but for their prowess and their bravery, would have been 
the scene of their country's defeat." 



Glengarry was peopled down to the end of last century 
with a fine race of men. In 1745, six hundred stalwart 


vassals followed the chief of Glengarry to the battle of 
Culloden. Some few years later they became so disgusted 
with the return made by their chief that many of them 
emigrated to the United States, though they were almost 
all in comfortable, some indeed, in affluent circumstances. 
Notwithstanding this semi-voluntary exodus, Major John 
Macdonell of Lochgarry, was able in 1777, to raise a fine 
regiment the 76th or Macdonald Highlanders number 
bering 1086 men, 750 of whom were Highlanders mainly 
from the Glengarry property. In 1794, Alexander Mac- 
donnell of Glengarry, raised a Fencible regiment, de- 
scribed as " a handsome body of men," of whom one-half 
were enlisted on the same estate. On being disbanded 
in 1802, these men were again so shabbily treated, that 
they followed the example of the men of the " Forty- 
five," and emigrated in a body, with their families, to 
Canada, taking two Gaelic-speaking ministers along with 
them to their new home. They afterwards distinguished 
themselves as part of the " Glengarry Fencibles " of 
Canada, in defence of their adopted country, and called 
their settlement there after their native glen in Scotland. 
The chiefs of Glengarry drove away their people, only, 
as in most other cases in the Highlands, to be themselves 
ousted soon after them. 

The Glengarry property at one time covered an area 
of nearly 200 square miles, and to-day, while many of 
their expatriated vassals are landed proprietors and in 
affluent circumstances in Canada, not an inch of the old 
possessions of the ancient and powerful family of Glen- 
garry remains to the descendants of those who caused the 
banishment of a people who, on many a well-fought field, 
shed their blood for their chief and country. In 1853, 
every inch of the ancient heritage was possessed by the 
stranger, except Knoydart in the west, and this has long 
ago become the property of one of the Bairds. In the 
year named, young Glengarry was a minor, his mother, 
the widow of the late chief, being one of his trustees. She 
does not appear to have learned any lesson of 
wisdom from the past misfortunes of her 
house. Indeed, considering her limited power and 


possessions, she was comparatively the worst of 
them all. 

The tenants of Knoydart, like all other Highlanders, 
had suffered severely during and after the potato famine 
in 1846 and 1847, and some of them got into arrear with a 
year and some with two years' rent, but they were fast 
clearing it off. Mrs. Macdonell and her factor determined 
to evict every crofter on her property, to make room for 
sheep. In the spring of 1853, they were all served with 
summonses of removal, accompanied by a message that 
Sir John Macneil, chairman of the Board of Supervision, 
had agreed to convey them to Australia. Their feelings 
were not considered worthy of the slightest consideration. 
They were not even asked whether they would prefer 
to follow their countrymen to America and Canada. 
They were to be treated as if they were nothing better 
than Africans, and the laws of their country on a level 
with those which regulated South American slavery. 
The people, however, had no alternative but to accept any 
offer made to them. They could not get an inch of land 
on any of the neighbouring estates, and any one who would 
give them a night's shelter was threatened with eviction. 

It was afterwards found not convenient to transport 
them to Australia, and it was then intimated to the poor 
creatures, as if they were nothing but common slaves to 
disposed of at will, that they would be taken to North 
America, and that a ship would be at Isle Ornsay, in the 
Isle of Skye, in a few days, to receive them, and that they 
must go on board. The Siller y soon arrived. Mrs. 
Macdonell and her factor came all the way from Edin- 
burgh to see the people hounded across in boats, and put 
on board this ship whether they would or not. An eye- 
witness who described the proceeding at the time, in a 
now rare pamphlet, and whom we met a few years ago in 
Nova Scotia, characterises the scene as heart-rending. 
" The wail of the poor women and children as they were 
torn away from their homes would have melted a heart of 
stone." Some few families, principally cottars, refused 
to go, in spite of every influence brought to bear upon 
them ; and the treatment they afterwards received was 


cruel beyond belief. The houses, not only of those who 
went, but of those who remained, were burnt and levelled 
to the ground. The Strath was dotted all over with 
black spots, showing where yesterday stood the habi- 
tations of men. The scarred half-burned wood couples, 
rafters, cabars were strewn about in every direction. 
Stocks of corn and plots of unlifted potatoes could be 
seen on all sides, but man was gone. No voice could be 
heard. Those who refused to go aboard the Sillery were 
in hiding among the rocks and the caves, while their 
friends were packed off like so many African slaves to 
the Cuban market. 

No mercy was shown to those who refused to emigrate ; 
their few articles of furniture were thrown out of their 
houses after them beds, chairs, tables, pots, stoneware, 
clothing, in many cases, rolling down the hill. What 
took years to erect and collect were destroyed and scat- 
tered in a few minutes. " From house to house, from 
hut to hut, and from barn to barn, the factor and his 
menials proceeded, carrying on the work of demolition, 
until there was scarcely a human habitation left standing 
in the district. Able-bodied men who, if the matter 
would rest with a mere trial of physical force, would have 
bound the factor and his party hand and foot, and sent 
them out of the district, stood aside as dumb spectators. 
Women wrung their hands and cried aloud, children ran 
to and fro dreadfully frightened ; and while all this work 
of demolition and destruction was going on no opposition 
was offered by the inhabitants, no hand was lifted, no 
stone cast, no angry word was spoken." The few huts 
left undemolished were occupied by the paupers, but 
before the factor left for the south even they were warned 
not to give any shelter to the evicted, or their huts would 
assuredly meet with the same fate. Eleven families, 
numbering in all over sixty persons, mostly old and 
decrepit men and women, and helpless children, were 
exposed that night, and many of them long afterwards, 
to the cold air, without shelter of any description beyond 
what little they were able to save out of the wreck of 
their burnt dwellings. 


We feel unwilling to inflict pain on the reader by the 
recitation of the untold cruelties perpetrated on the poor 
Highlanders of Knoydart, but doing so may, perhaps, 
serve a good purpose. It may convince the evil-doer 
that his work shall not be forgotten, and any who may be 
disposed to follow the example of past evictors may hesi- 
tate before they proceed to immortalise themselves in 
such a hateful manner. We shall, therefore, quote a 
few cases from the pamphlet already referred to : 

John Macdugald, aged about 50, with a wife and 
family, was a cottar, and earned his subsistence chiefly by 
fishing. He was in bad health, and had two of his sons in 
the hospital, at Elgin, ill of smallpox, when the Sillery 
was sent to convey the Knoydart people to Canada. He 
refused to go on that occasion owing to the state of his 
health, and his boys being at a distance under medical 
treatment. The factor and the officers, however, arrived, 
turned Macdugald and his family adrift, put their bits of 
furniture out on the field, and in a few minutes levelled 
their house to the ground. The whole family had now no 
shelter but the broad canopy of heaven. The mother 
and the youngest of the children could not sleep owing to 
the cold, and the father, on account of his sickness, kept 
wandering about all night near where his helpless family 
lay down to repose. After the factor and the officers left 
the district Macdugald and his wife went back to the 
ruins of their house, collected some of the stones and turf 
into something like walls, threw a few cabars across, 
covered them over with blankets, old sails, and turf, 
and then, with their children, crept underneath, trusting 
that they would be allowed, at least for a time, to take 
shelter under this temporary covering. But, alas ! 
they were doomed to bitter disappointment. A week 
had not elapsed when the local manager, accompanied 
by a posse of officers and menials, traversed the country 
and levelled to the ground every hut or shelter erected by 
the evicted peasantry. Macdugald was at this time 
away from Knoydart ; his wife was at Inverie, distant 
about six miles, seeing a sick relative ; the oldest chil- 
dren were working at the shore ; and in the hut, when the 


manager came with the " levellers," he found none of the 
family except Lucy and Jane, the two youngest. The 
moment they saw the officers they screamed and fled for 
their lives. The demolition of the shelter was easily 
accomplished it was but the work of two or three min- 
utes ; and, this over, the officers and menials of the 
manager amused themselves by seizing hold of chairs, 
stools, tables, spinning-wheels, or any other light articles, 
by throwing them a considerable distance from the hut. 
The mother, as I said, was at Inverie, distant about six 
or seven miles, and Lucy and Jane proceeded in that 
direction hoping to meet her. They had not gone far, 
however, when they missed the footpath and wandered 
far out of the way. In the interval the mother returned 
from Inverie and found the hut razed to the ground, her 
furniture scattered far and near, her bedclothes lying 
under turf, clay, and debns, and her children gone ! Just 
imagine the feelings of this poor Highland mother on the 
occasion ! But, to proceed, the other children returned 
from the shore, and they too stood aside, amazed and 
grieved at the sudden destruction of their humble refuge, 
and at the absence of their two little sisters. At first 
they thought they were under the ruins, and creeping 
down on their knees they carefully removed every turf 
and stone, but found nothing except a few broken dishes. 
A consultation was now held and a search resolved upon. 
The mother, brother and sisters set off in opposite direc- 
tions, among the rocks, over hills, through moor and moss, 
searching every place, and calling aloud for them by 
name, but they could discover no trace of them. Night 
was now approaching and with it all hopes of finding 
them, till next day, were fast dying away. The mother 
was now returning " home " (alas ! to what a home), the 
shades of night closed in, and still she had about three 
miles to travel. She made for the footpath, scrutinized 
every bush, and looked round every rock and hillock, 
hoping to find them. Sometimes she imagined that she 
saw her two lasse? walking before her at some short dis- 
tance, but it was an illusion caused by bushes just about 
their size. The moon now emerged from behind a cloud 


and spread its light on the path and surrounding district. 
A sharp frost set in, and ice began to form on the little 
pools. Passing near a rock and some bushes, where the 
children of the tenants used to meet when herding the 
cattle, she felt as if something beckoned her to search 
there ; this she did, and found her two little children 
fast asleep, beside a favourite bush, the youngest with her 
head resting on the breast of the eldest ! Their own 
version of their mishap is this : that when they saw the 
officers they crept out and ran in the direction of 
Inverie to tell their mother ; that they missed the foot- 
path, then wandered about crying, and finally returned, 
they knew not how, to their favourite herding ground, and 
being completely exhausted, fell asleep. The mother 
took the young one on her back, sent the other on before 
her, and soon joined her other children near the ruins of 
their old dwelling. They put a few sticks up to an old 
fence, placed a blanket over it, and slept on the bare 
ground that night. Macdugald soon returned from his 
distant journey, found his family shelterless, and again 
set about erecting some refuge for them from the wreck 
of the old buildings. Again, however, the local manager 
appeared with levellers, turned them all adrift, and 
in a few moments pulled down and destroyed all that he 
had built up. Matters continued in this way for a week 
or two until Macdugald' s health became serious, and then 
a neighbouring farmer gave him and his family temporary 
shelter in an out-house ; and for this act of disinterested 
humanity he has already received some most improper 
and threatening letters from the managers on the estate 
of Knoydart. It is very likely that in consequence of this 
interference Macdugald is again taking shelter among the 
rocks or amid the wreck of his former residence. 

John Mackinnon, a cottar, aged 44, with a wife and six 
children, had his house pulled down, and had no place to 
put his head in, consequently he and his family, for the 
first night or two, had to burrow among the rocks near 
the shore ! When he thought that the factor and his 
party had left the district, he emerged from the rocks, 
surveyed the ruins of his former dwelling, saw his furni- 


ture and other effects exposed to the elements, and now 
scarcely worth the lifting. The demolition was so com- 
plete that he considered it utterly impossible to make any 
use of the ruins of the old house. The ruins of an old 
chapel, however, were near at hand, and parts of the walls 
were still standing ; thither Mackinnon proceeded with 
his family, and having swept away some rubbish and 
removed some grass and nettles, they placed a few cabars 
up to one of the walls, spread some sails and blankets 
across, brought in some meadow hay, and laid it in a 
corner for a bed, stuck a piece of iron into the wall in 
another corner, on which they placed a crook, then 
kindled a fire, washed some potatoes, and put a pot on 
the fire, and boiled them, and when these and a few fish 
roasted on the embers were ready, Mackinnon and his 
family had one good diet, being the first regular meal 
they tasted since the destruction of their house! 

Mackinnon is a tall man, but poor and unhealthy- 
looking. His wife is a poor weak women, evidently 
struggling with a diseased constitution and dreadful 
trials. The boys, Ronald and Archibald, were lying in 
" bed " (may I call a " pickle " hay on the bare ground a 
bed ?) suffering from rheumatism and cholic. The 
other children are apparently healthy enough as yet, but 
very ragged. There is no door to their wretched abode, 
consequently every breeze and gust that blow have free 
ingress to the inmates. A savage from Terra-del-Fuego, 
or a Red Indian from beyond the Rocky Mountains, 
would not exchange huts with these victims, nor human- 
ity with their persecutors. Mackinnon' s wife was 
pregnant when she was turned out of her house among the 
rocks. In about four days after she had a premature 
birth ; and this and her exposure to the elements, and the 
want of proper shelter and nutritious diet, has brought 
on consumption from which there is no chance whatever 
of her recovery. 

There was something very solemn indeed in this scene. 
Here, amid the ruins of the old sanctuary, where the 
swallows fluttered, where the ivy tried to screen the grey 
moss-covered stones, where nettles and grass grew up 


luxuriously, where the floor was damp, the walls sombre 
and uninviting, where there were no doors nor windows, 
nor roof, and where the owl, the bat, and the fox used to 
take refuge, a Christian family was obliged to take 
shelter ! One would think that as Mackinnon took re- 
fuge amid the ruins of this most singular place, that he 
would be let alone, that he would not any longer be 
molested by man. But, alas ! that was not to be. The 
manager of Knoydart and his minions appeared, and in- 
vaded this helpless family, even within the walls of the 
sanctuary. They pulled down the sticks and sails he 
set up within its ruins put his wife and children out on 
the cold shore threw his tables, stools, chairs, etc., 
over the walls burnt up the hay on which they slept 
put out the fire, and then left the district. Four times 
have these officers broken in upon poor Mackinnon 
in this way, destroying his place of shelter, and sent him 
and his family adrift on the cold coast of Knoydart. 
When I looked in upon these creatures last week I found 
them in utter consternation, having just learned that the 
officers would appear next day, and would again destroy 
the huts. The children looked at me as if I had been a 
wolf ; they crept behind their father, and stared 
wildly, dreading I was a law officer. The sight was most 
painful. The very idea that, in Christian Scotland, 
and in the nineteenth century, these tender infants 
should be subjected to such gross treatment reflects 
strongly upon our humanity and civilization. Had 
they been suffering from the ravages of famine, or pestil- 
ence, or war, I could understand it and account for it, but 
suffering to gratify the ambition of some unfeeling 
spectator in brute beasts, I think it most unwarranted, 
and deserving the emphatic condemnation of every 
Christian man. Had Mackinnon been in arrears of rent, 
which he was not, even this would not justify the harsh, 
cruel, and inhuman conduct pursued towards himself 
and his family. No language of mine can describe the 
condition of this poor family, exaggeration is impossible. 
The ruins of an old chapel is the last place in the world 
to which a poor Highlander would resort with his wife 


and children, unless he was driven to it by dire necessity. 
Take another case, that of 

Elizabeth Gillies, a widow, aged 60 years. This is a 
most lamentable case. Neither age, sex, nor circum- 
stance saved this poor creature from the most wanton and 
cruel aggression. Her house was on the brow of a hill, 
near a stream that formed the boundary between a large 
sheep farm and the lands of the tenants of Knoydart. 
Widow Gillies was warned to quit like the rest of the ten- 
ants, and was offered a passage first to Australia and then 
to Canada, but she refused to go, saying she could do 
nothing in Canada. The widow, however, made no 
promises, and the factor went away. She had then a 
nice young daughter staying with her, but ere the vessel 
that was to convey the Knoydart people away arrived 
at Isle Ornsay, this young girl died, and poor Widow 
Gillies was left alone. When the time for pulling down 
the houses arrived, it was hoped that some mercy would 
have been shown to this poor, bereaved widow, but there 
was none. Widow Gillies was sitting inside her house 
when the factor and officers arrived. They ordered her 
to remove herself and effects instantly, as they were, they 
sad, to pull down the house ! She asked them where she 
would remove to ; the factor would give no answer, but 
continued insisting on her leaving the house. This she 
at last positively refused. Two men then took hold of 
her, and tried to pull her out by force, but she sat down 
beside the fire, and would not move an inch. One of the 
assistants threw water on the fire and extinguished it, 
and then joined the other two in forcibly removing the 
poor widow from the house. At first she struggled hard, 
seized hold of every post or stone within her reach, taking 
a death grasp of each to keep possession. But the officers 
were too many and too cruel for her. They struck her 
over the fingers, and compelled her to let go her hold, and 
then all she could do was to greet and cry out murder ! 
She was ultimately thrust out at the door, from where she 
crept on her hands and feet to a dyke side, being quite 
exhausted and panting for breath, owing to her hard 
struggle with three powerful men. Whenever they got 


her outside, the work of destruction immediately com- 
menced. Stools, chairs, tables, cupboard, spinning- 
wheel, bed, blankets, straw, dishes, pots, and chest, 
were thrown out in the gutter. They broke down the 
partitions, took down the crook from over the fire-place, 
destroyed the hen roosts, and then beat the hens out 
through the broad vent in the roof of the house. This 
done, they set to work on the walls outside with picks 
and iron levers. They pulled down the thatch, cut the 
couples, and in a few minutes the walls fell out, while the 
roof fell in with a dismal crash ! 

When the factor and his party were done with this 
house, they proceeded to another district, pulling down 
and destroying dwelling-places as they went along. The 
shades of night at last closed in, and here was the poor 
helpless widow sitting like a pelican, alone and cheerless. 
Allan Macdonald, a cottar, whose house was also pulled 
down, ran across the hill to see how the poor widow had 
been treated, and found her moaning beside the dyke. 
He led her to where his own children had taken shelter, 
treated her kindly, and did all he could to comfort her 
under the circumstances. 

When I visited Knoydart I found the poor widow at 
work, repairing her shed, and such a shed, and such a 
dwelling, I never before witnessed. The poor creature 
spoke remarkably well, and appeared to me to be a very 
sensible woman. I expressed my sympathy for her, and 
my disapprobation of the conduct of those who so un- 
mercifully treated her. She said it was indeed most 
ungrateful on the part of the representatives of Glen- 
garry to have treated her so cruelly that her prede- 
cessors were, from time immemorial, on the Glengarry 
estates that many of them died in defence of, or fighting 
for, the old chieftains and that they had always been 
true and faithful subjects. I asked why she refused to go 
to Canada ? 

" For a very good reason," she said, " I am now 
old, and not able to clear a way in the forests of 
Canada \ and, besides, I am unfit for service ] and, fur- 
ther, I am averse to leave my native country, and rather 


than leave it, I would much prefer that my grave was 
opened beside my dear daughter, although I should be 
buried alive ! " 

I do think she was sincere in what she said. 
Despair and anguish were marked in her counten- 
ance, and her attachment to her old habitation and its 
associations were so strong that I believe they can only 
be cut asunder by death ! I left her in this miserable 
shed which she occupied, and I question much if there 
is another human residence like it in Europe. The wig- 
wam of the wild Indian, or the cave of the Greenlander, 
are palaces in comparison with it ; and even the meanest 
dog-kennel in England would be a thousand times more 
preferable as a place of residence. If this poor Highland 
woman will stand it out all winter in this abode it will be 
indeed a great wonder. The factor has issued an ukase, 
which aggravates all these cases of eviction with peculiar 
hardship ; he has warned all and sundry on the Knoy- 
dart estates from receiving or entertaining the evicted 
peasantry into their houses under pain of removal. 

Allan Macdonald, aged 54, a widower, with four chil- 
dren, was similarly treated. Our informant says of him : 

" When his late Majesty George IV. visited Scotland in 
1823, and when Highland lairds sent up to Edinburgh 
specimens of the bone and sinew human produce of 
their properties, old Glengarry took care to give Allan 
Macdonald a polite invitation to this ' Royal exhibition.' 
Alas ! how matters have so sadly changed. Within the 
last 30 years man has fallen off dreadfully in the esti- 
mation of Highland proprietors. Commercially speaking, 
Allan Macdonald has now ijo value at all. Had he been a 
roe, a deer, a sheep, or a bullock, a Highland laird in 
speculating could estimate his ' real ' worth to within a 
few shillings, but Allan is only a man. Then his children ; 
they are of no value, nor taken into account in the calcu- 
lations of the sportsman. They cannot be shot at like 
hares, blackcocks, or grouse, nor yet can they be sent 
south as game to feed the London market." 

Another case is that of Archibald Macisaac, crofter, 
aged 66 ; wife 54, with a family of ten children. 


Archibald's house, byre, barn, and stable were levelled 
to the ground. The furniture of the house was 
thrown down the hill, and a general destruction 
then commenced. The roof, fixtures, and woodwork 
were smashed to pieces, the walls razed to the 
very foundation, and all that was left for poor Archi- 
bald to look upon was a black dismal wreck. Twelve 
human beings were thus deprived of their home in less 
than half-an-hour. It was grossly illegal to have des- 
stroyed the barn, for, according even to the law of 
Scotland, the outgoing or removing tenant is entitled to 
the use of the barn until his crops are disposed of. But, 
of course, in a remote district, and among simple and 
primitive people like the inhabitants of Knoydart, the 
laws that concern them and define their rights are un- 
known to them. 

Archibald had now to make the best shift he could. No 
mercy or favour could be expected from the factor. 
Having convened his children beside an old fence where 
he sat looking on when the destruction of his home was 
accomplished, he addressed them on the peculiar nature of 
the position in which they were placed, and the necessity 
of asking for wisdom from above to guide them in any 
future action. His wife and children wept, but the old 
man said, " Neither weeping nor reflection will now avail; 
we must prepare some shelter." The children collected 
some cabars and turf, and in the hollow between two 
ditches, the old man constructed a rude shelter for the 
night, and having kindled a fire and gathered in his 
family, they all engaged in family worship and sung 
psalms as usual. Next morning they examined the 
ruins, picked up some broken pieces of furniture, dishes, 
etc., and then made another addition to their shelter in 
the ditch. Matters went on this way for about a week, 
when the local manager and his men came down upon 
them, and after much abuse for daring to take shelters 
on the lands of Knoydart, they destroyed the shelter and 
put old Archy and his people again out on the hill. 

I found Archibald and his numerous family still at 
Knoydart and in a shelter beside the old ditch. Any 


residence more wretched or more truly melancholy, I 
have never witnessed. A feal, or turf erection, about 
3 feet high, 4 feet broad, and about 5 feet long, was at the 
end of the shelter, and this formed the sleeping place of 
the mother and her five daughters ! They creep in and 
out on their knees, and their bed is just a layer of hay on 
the cold earth of the ditch ! There is surely monstrous 
cruelty in this treatment of British females, and the laws 
that sanction or tolerate such flagrant and gross abuses 
are a disgrace to the Statute book and to the country 
that permits it. Macisaac and his family are, so far as I 
could learn, very decent, respectable, and well-behaved 
people, and can we not perceive a monstrous injustice 
in treating them worse than slaves because they refuse 
to allow themselves to be packed off to the Colonies just 
like so many bales of manufactured goods ? 

Again : 

Donald Maceachan, a cottar at Arar, married, with a 
wife, and five children. This poor man, his wife, and 
children were fully twenty-three nights without any 
shelter but the broad and blue heavens. They kindled 
a fire, and prepared their food beside a rock, and then 
slept in the open air. Just imagine the condition of this 
poor mother, Donald's wife, nursing a delicate child, and 
subjected to merciless storms of wind and rain during a 
long October night. One of these melancholy nights 
the blankets that covered them were frozen and white 
with frost. 

The next case is as follows ; 

Charles Macdonald, aged 70 years, a widower, having 
no family. This poor man was also " keeled " for the 
Colonies, and, as he refused to go, his house or cabin was 
levelled to the ground. What on earth could old Charles 
do in America ? Was there any mercy or humanity in 
offering him a free passage across the Atlantic ? In 
England, Charles would have been considered a proper 
object of parochial protection and relief, but in Scotland 
no such relief is afforded except to " sick folks " and 
tender infants. There can be no question, however, that 
the factor looked forward to the period when Charles 


would become chargeable as a pauper, and, acting as a 
" prudent man," he resolved to get quit of him at once. 
Three or four pounds would send the old man across the 
Atlantic, but if he remained in Knoydart, it would likely 
take four or five pounds to keep him each year that he 
lived. When the factor and his party arrived at Charles's 
door, they knocked and demanded admission ; the factor 
intimated his object, and ordered the old man to quit. 
" As soon as I can," said Charles, and, taking up his plaid 
and staff and adjusting his blue bonnet, he walked out, 
merely remarking to the factor that the man who could 
turn out an old, inoffensive Highlander of seventy, from 
such a place, and at such a season, could do a great deal 
more if the laws of the country permitted him. Charles 
took to the rocks, and from that day to this he has never 
gone near his old habitation. He has neither house nor 
home, but receives occasional supplies of food from his 
evicted neighbours, and he sleeps on the hill ! Poor old 
man, who would not pity him who would not share with 
him a crust or a covering who ? 

Alexander Macdonald, aged 40 years, with a wife and 
family of four children, had his house pulled down. His 
wife was pregnant ; still the levellers thrust her out, and 
then put the children out after her. The husband argued, 
remonstrated, and protested, but it was all in vain ; for 
in a few minutes all he had for his (to him once comfort- 
able) home was a lot of rubbish, blackened rafters, and 
heaps of stones. The levellers laughed at him and at his 
protests, and when their work was over, moved away, 
leaving him to find refuge the best way he could. Alex- 
ander had, like the rest of his evicted brethren, to burrow 
among the rocks and in caves until he put up a temporary 
shelter amid the wreck of his old habitation, but from 
which he was repeatedly driven away. For three days 
Alexander Macdonald' s wife lay sick beside a bush, where, 
owing to terror and exposure to cold, she had a mis- 
carriage. She was then removed to the shelter of the 
walls of her former house, and for three days she lay so ill 
that her life was despaired of. These are facts as to which 
I challenge contradiction. I have not inserted them 


without the most satisfactory evidence of their 

Catherine Mackinnon, aged about 50 years, unmarried ; 
Peggy Mackinnon, aged about 48 years, unmarried ; aand 
Catherine Macphee (a half-sister of the two Mackinnons), 
also unmarried ; occupied one house. Catherine Mac- 
kinnon was for a long time sick, and she was confined to 
bed when the factor and his party came to beat down the 
house. At first they requested her to get up and walk out, 
but her sisters said she could not, as she was so unwell. 
They answered, " Oh, she is scheming ; " the sisters said 
she was not, that she had been ill for a considerable 
time, and the sick woman herself, who then feebly spoke, 
said she was quite unfit to be removed, but if God spared 
her and bestowed upon her better health that she would 
remove of her own accord. This would not suffice ; 
they forced her out of bed, sick as she was, and left her 
beside a ditch from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., when, afraid that she 
would die, as she was seriously unwell, they removed her 
to a house and provided her with cordials and warm 
clothing. lyet the reader imagine the sufferings of this 
poor female, so ruthlessly torn from a bed of sickness and 
laid down beside a cold ditch and there left exposed for 
seven long hours, and then say if such conduct does not 
loudly call for the condemnation of every lover of human 
liberty and humanity. Peggy and her half-sister Mac- 
phee are still burrowing among the ruins of their old 
home. When I left Knoydart last week there were no 
hope whatever of Catherine Mackinnon' s recovery. 

I challenge the factor to contradict one sentence in this 
short narrative of the poor females. The melancholy 
truth of it is too palpable, too well-known in the district 
to admit of even a tenable explanation. Nothing can 
palliate or excuse such gross inhumanity, and it is but 
right and proper that British Christians should be made 
aware of such unchristian conduct such cruelty towards 
helpless fellow- creatures in sickness and distress. 

The last case, at present, is that of 

Duncan Robertson, aged 35 years, with wife aged 32 
years, and a family of three children. Very poor ; the 


oldest boy is deformed and weak in mind and body, re- 
quiring almost the constant care of one of his parents. 
Robertson was warned out like the rest of the tenants, 
and decree of removal was obtained against him. At the 
levelling time the factor came up with his men before 
Robertson's door, and ordered the inmates out. Robert- 
son pleaded for mercy on account of his sick andtimbecile 
boy, but the factor appeared at first inexorable \ at last 
he sent in one of the officers to see the boy, who, on his 
return, said that the boy was really and truly an object 
of pity. The factor said he could not help it, that he must 
pull down. Some pieces of furniture were then thrown 
out, and the picks were fixed in the walls, when Robert- 
son's wife ran out and implored delay, asking the factor, 
for heaven's sake, to come in and see her sick child. 
He replied, " I am sure I am no doctor." " I know that," 
she said, " but God might have given you Christian 
feelings and bowels of compassion notwithstanding." 
" Bring him out here," said the factor ; and the poor 
mother ran to the bed and brought out her sick boy in 
her arms. When the factor saw him, he admitted that 
he was an object of pity, but warned Robertson that he 
must quit Knoydart as soon as possible, so that his house 
would be pulled down about his ears. The levellers peep 
in once a week to see if the boy is getting better, so that 
the house may be razed. 

We could give additional particulars of the cruelties 
which had to be endured by the poor wretches who re- 
mained cruelties which would never be tolerated in any 
other civilized country than Britain, and which in Britain 
would secure instant and severe punishment if inflicted 
on a dog or a pig, but the record would only inflict further 
pain, and we have said enough. 

Retribution has overtaken the e victors, and is it a 
wonder that the chiefs of Glengarry are now as little 
known, and own as little of their ancient domains in the 
Highlands as their devoted clansmen ? There is now 
scarcely one of the name of Macdonald in the wide district 
once inhabited by thousands. It is a huge wilderness in 
which barely anything is met but wild animals and sheep, 


and the few keepers and shepherds necessary to take care 
of them. 



It has been shown, under " Glengarry," that a chief's 
widow, during her son's minority, was responsible for the 
Knoydart evictions in 1853. Another chief's widow, 
Marsali Bhinneach Marjory, daughter of Sir Ludovick 
Grant of Dalvey, widow of Duncan Macdonnell of Glen- 
garry, who died in 1788 gave the whole of Glencruaich 
as a sheep farm to one south country shepherd, and to 
make room for him she evicted over 500 people from their 
ancient homes. The late Edward Ellice stated before a 
Committee of the House of Commons, in 1873, that about 
the time of the rebellion in 1745, the population of Glen- 
garry amounted to between 5000 and 6000. At the same 
time the glen turned out an able-bodied warrior in sup- 
port of Prince Charles for every pound of rental paid to 
the proprietor. To-day it is questionable if the same dis- 
trict could turn out twenty men certainly not that 
number of Macdonalds. The bad example' of this heart- 
less woman was unfortunately imitated afterwards by 
her daughter Elizabeth, who, in 1795, married William 
Chisholm of Chisholm, and to whose evil influence may 
be traced the great eviction which, in 1801, cleared Strath- 
glass almost to a man of its ancient inhabitants. The 
Chisholm was delicate, and often in bad health, so that the 
management of the estate fell into the hands of his strong- 
minded and hard-hearted wife. In 1 80 1, no less than 799 
took ship at Fort William and Isle Martin from Strath- 
glass, the Aird, Glen Urquhart, and the neighbouring 
districts, all for Pictou, Nova Scotia ; while in the follow- 
ing year, 473 from the same district left Fort William, 
for Upper Canada, and 128 for Pictou. Five hundred 
and fifty went aboard another ship at Knoydart, many of 
whom were from Strathglass. In 1803, four different 
batches of 120 souls each, by four different ships, left 


Strathglass, also for Pictou ] while not a few went away 
with emigrants from other parts of the Highlands. Dur- 
ing these three years we find that no less than 5390 were 
driven out of these Highland glens, and it will be seen 
that a very large portion of them were evicted from 
Strathglass by the daughter of the notorious Marsali 
Bhinneach. From among the living cargo of one of the 
vessels which sailed from Fort William no less than fifty- 
three souls died, on the way out, of an epidemic ; and, 
on the arrival of the living portion of the cargo at Pictou, 
they were shut in on a narrow point of land, from whence 
they were not allowed to communicate with any of their 
friends who had gone before them, for fear of communi- 
cating the contagion. Here they suffered indescribable 

By a peculiar arrangement between the Chisholm who 
died in 1793, and his wife, a considerable portion of the 
people were saved for a time from the ruthless conduct of 
Marsali Bhinneach' s daughter and her co-adjutors. 
Alexander Chisholm married Elizabeth, daughter of a Dr. 
Wilson, in Edinburgh. He made provision for his wife in 
case of her outliving him, by which it was left optional 
with her to take a stated sum annually, or the rental of 
certain townships, or club farms. Her husband died in 
I 793> when the estate reverted to his half-brother, 
William, and the widow, on the advice of her only child, 
Mary, who, afterwards became Mrs. James Gooden of 
London, made choice of the joint farms, instead of the 
sum of money named in her marraige settlement ; and 
though great efforts were made by Marsali Bhinneach' s 
daughter and her friends, the widow, Mrs. Alexander 
Chisholm, kept the farms in her own hands, and took 
great pleasure in seeing a prosperous tenantry in these 
townships, while all their neighbours were heartlessly 
driven away. Not one of her tenants were disturbed or 
interfered with in any way from the death of her husband, 
in February 1793, until her own death in January, 1826, 
when, unfortunately for them, their farms all came into 
the hands of the young heir (whose sickly father died in 
1817), and his cruel mother. For a few years the tenants 


were left in possession, but only waiting an opportunity 
to make a complete clearance of the whole Strath. Some 
had a few years of their leases to run on other parts of the 
property, and could not just then be expelled. 

In 1830 every man who held land on the property was 
requested to meet his chief at the local inn of Cannich. 
They all obeyed, and were there at the appointed time, 
but no chief came to meet them. The factor soon turned 
up, however, and informed them that the laird had 
determined to enter into no negotiation or any new ar- 
rangements with them that day. They were all in good 
circumstances, without any arrears of rent, but were 
practically banished from their homes in the most 
inconsiderate and cruel manner, and it afterwards be- 
came known that their farms had been secretly let to 
sheep farmers from the south, without the knowledge of 
the native population in possession. 

Mr. Colin Chisholm, who was present at the meeting at 
Cannich, writes : "I leave you to imagine the bitter 
grief and disappointment of men who attended with glow- 
ing hopes in the morning, but had to tell their families 
and dependents in the evening that they could see no 
alternative before them but the emigrant ship, and choose 
between the scorching prairies of Australia and the icy 
regions of North America." It did not, however, come 
to that. The late Lord Lovat, hearing of the harsh 
proceedings, proposed to one of the large sheep farmers 
on his neighbouring property to give up his farm, his lord- 
ship offering to give full value for his stock, so that he 
might divide it among those evicted from the Chisholm 
estate. This arrangement was amicably carried through, 
and at the next Whitsunday 1831 the evicted tenants 
from Strathglass came into possession of the large sheep 
farm of Glenstrathf arrar, and paid over to the late tenant 
of the farm every farthing of the value set upon the stock 
by two of the leading valuators in the country a fact 
which conclusively proved that the Strathglass tenants 
were quite capable of holding their own, and perfectly able 
to meet all claims that could be made upon them by their 
old proprietor and unnatural chief. They became very 


comfortable in their new homes \ but about fifteen years 
after their eviction from Strathglass they were again 
removed to make room for deer. On this occasion the 
late Lord Lovat gave them similar holdings on other 
portions of his property, and the sons and grandsons of the 
evicted tenants of Strathglass are now, on the Lovat pro- 
perty, among the most respectable and comfortable 
middle-class farmers in the county. 

The result of the Strathglass evictions was that only 
two of the ancient native stock remained in possession of 
an inch of land on the estate of Chisholm. When the 
present Chisholm came into possession he found, on his 
return from Canada, only that small remnant of his own 
name and clan to receive him. He brought back a few 
Chisholms from the Lovat property, and re-established 
on his old farm a tenant who had been evicted nineteen 
years before from the holding in which his father and 
grandfather died. The great-grandfather was killed at 
Culloden, having been shot while carrying his commander, 
young Chisholm, mortally wounded, from the field. The 
gratitude of that chief's successors had been shown by his 
ruthless eviction from the ancient home of his ancestors ; 
but it is gratifying to find the present chief making some 
reparation by bringing back and liberally supporting the 
representatives of such a devoted follower of his for- 
bears. The present Chisholm, who has the character of 
being a good landlord, is descended from a distant col- 
lateral branch of the family. The evicting Chisholms, 
and their offpsring have, however, every one of them, 
disappeared, and Mr. Colin Chisholm informs us that there 
is not a human being now in Strathglass of the descend- 
ants of the chief, or of the south country farmers, who 
were the chief instruments in evicting the native popu- 

To give the reader an idea of the class of men who 
occupied this district, it may be stated that of the 
descendants of those who lived in Glen Canaich, one of 
several smaller glens, at one time thickly populated in the 
Strath, but now a perfect wilderness there lived in the 
present generation, no less than three colonels, one major, 


three captains, three lieutenants, seven ensigns, one 
bishop, and fifteen priests. 

Earlier in the history of Strathglass and towards the 
end of last century, an attempt was made by south coun- 
try sheep farmers to persuade Alexander Chisholm to 
follow the example of Glengarry, by clearing out the whole 
native population. Four southerners, among them 
Gillespie, who took the farm of Glencruaich, cleared by 
Glengarry, called upon the Chisholm, at Comar, and tried 
hard to convince him of the many advantages which would 
accrue to him by the eviction of his tenantry, and turning 
the largest and best portions of his estate into great 
sheep walks, for which they offered to pay him large 
rents. His daughter, Mary, already referred to as Mrs. 
James Gooden, was then in her teens. She heard the 
arguments used, and having mildly expressed her ob- 
jection to the heartless proposal of the greedy southerners, 
she was ordered out of the room, crying bitterly. She, 
however, found her way to the kitchen, called all the ser- 
vants together, and explained the cause of her trouble. 
The object of the guests at Comar was soon circulated 
through the Strath, and early the following morning 
over a thousand men met together in front of Comar 
House, and demanded an interview with their chief. 
This was at once granted, and the whole body of the 
people remonstrated with him for entertaining, even for a 
moment, the cruel proceedings suggested by the stran- 
gers, whose conduct the frightened natives characterised 
as infinitely worse than that of the f reebooting Lochaber 
men who, centuries before, came with their swords and 
other instruments of death to rob his ancestors of their 
patrimony, but who were defeated and driven out of the 
district by the ancestors of those whom it was now pro- 
posed to evict out of their native Strath, to make room 
for the greedy freebooters of modern times and their 
sheep. The chief counselled quietness, and suggested 
that the action they had taken might be construed as 
an act of inhospitality to his guests, not characteristic, 
in any circumstances, of a Highland chief. 
The sheep farmers who stood inside the open drawing- 


room window, heard all that had passed, and, seeing the 
unexpected turn events were taking, and the desperate 
resolve shown by the objects of their cruel purpose, they 
adopted the better part of valour, slipped quietly out by 
the back door, mounted their horses, galloped away as 
fast as their steeds could carry them, and crossed the 
river Glass among the hooting and derision of the assem- 
bled tenantry, heard until they crossed the hill which 
separates Strathglass from Corriemony. The result of 
the interview with their laird was a complete understand- 
ing between him and his tenants ; and the flying horse- 
men, looking behind them for the first time when they 
reached the top of the Maol Bhuidhe, saw the assembled 
tenantry forming a procession in front of Comar House, 
with pipers at their head, and the Chisholm being carried, 
mounted shoulder-high, by his stalwart vassals, on their 
way to Invercannich. The pleasant outcome of the 
whole was that chief and clan expressed renewed confid- 
ence in each other, a determination to continue in future 
in the same happy relationship, and to maintain, each on 
his part, all modern and ancient bonds of fealty ever 
entered into by their respective ancestors. 

This, in fact, turned out to be one of the happiest days 
that ever dawned on the glen. The people were left 
unmolested so long as this Chisholm survived a fact 
which shows the wisdom of chief and people meeting face 
to face, and refusing to permit others whether greedy 
outsiders or selfish factors to come and foment mischief 
and misunderstanding between parties whose interests 
are so closely bound together, and who, if they met and 
discussed their differences, would seldom or ever have any 
disagreements of a serious character. Worse counsel 
prevailed after Alexander's death, and the result under 
the cruel daughter of the notorious Marsali Bhinneach, 
has been already described. 

Reference has been made to the clearance of Glen- 
strathfarrar by the late Lord Lovat, but for the people 
removed from there and other portions of the Lovat pro- 
perty, he allotted lands in various other places on his 
own estates, so that, although these changes were most 


injurious to his tenants, his lordship's proceedings can 
hardly be called evictions in the ordinary sense of the 
term. His predecessor, Archibald Fraser of Lovat, 
however, evicted, like the Chisholms, hundreds from the 
Lovat estates. 


The modern clearances which took place within the 
last quarter of a century in Guisachan, Strathglass, by 
Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, have been described in all their 
phases before a Committee of the House of Commons in 
1872. The Inspector of Poor for the parish of Kiltarlity 
wrote a letter which was brought before the Committee, 
with a statement from another source that, " in 1855, 
there were 16 farmers on the estate \ the number of cows 
they had was 62, and horses, 24 ; the principal farmer had 
2000 sheep, the next 1000, and the rest between them 
1200, giving a total of 4200. Now (1873) there is but one 
farmer, and he leaves at Whitsunday ; all these farmers 
lost the holdings on which they ever lived in competency ; 
indeed, it is well known that some of them were able to 
lay by some money. They have been sent to the four 
quarters of the globe, or to vegetate in Sir Dudley's 
dandy cottages at Tomich, made more for show than con- 
venience, where they have to depend on his employment 
or charity. To prove that all this is true, take at ran- 
dom, the smith, the shoemaker, or the tailor, and say 
whether the poverty and starvation were then or now ? 
For instance, under the old regime, the smith farmed a 
piece of land which supplied the wants of his family 
with meal and potatoes ; he had two cows, a horse, and a 
score or two of sheep on the hill ' he paid 7 of yearly 
rent ; he now has nothing but the bare walls of his 
cottage and smithy, for which he pays 10. Of course he 
had his trade than as he has now. Will he live more com- 
fortably now than he did then ? " It was stated, at the 
same time, that, when Sir Dudley Marjoribanks bought 



the property, there was a population of 255 souls upon it, 
and Sir Dudley, in his examination, though he threw 
some doubt upon that statement, was quite unable to 
refute it. The proprietor, on being asked, said that he 
did not evict any of the people. But Mr. Macombie 
having said, " Then the tenants went away of their own 
free will," Sir Dudley replied, " I must not say so quite. 
I told them that when they had found other places to go 
to, I wished to have their farms." 

They were, in point of fact, evicted as much as any 
others of the ancient tenantry in the Highlands, though 
it is but fair to say that the same harsh cruelty was not 
applied in their case as in many of the others recorded 
in these pages. Those who had been allowed to remain 
in the new cottages, are without cow or sheep, or an inch 
of land, while those alive of those sent off are spread over 
the wide world, like those sent, as already described, 
from other places. 


In 1849 more than 500 souls left Glenelg. These 
petitioned the proprietor, Mr. Baillie of Dochfour, to 
provide means of existence for them at home by means 
of reclamation and improvements in the district, or, fail- 
ing this, to help them to emigrate. Mr. Baillie, after 
repeated communications, made choice of the latter 
alternative, and suggested that a local committee should 
be appointed to procure and supply him with information 
as to the number of families willing to emigrate, their 
circumstances, and the amount of aid necessary to enable 
them to do so. This was done, and it was intimated 
to the proprietor that a sum of 3000 would be required 
to land those willing to emigrate at Quebec. This sum 
included passage money, free rations, a month's susten- 
ance after the arrival of the party in Canada, and some 
clothing for the more destitute. Ultimately, the pro- 
prietor offered the sum of 2000, while the Highland 


Destitution Committee promised 500. A great deal of 
misunderstanding occurred before the Liscard finally 
sailed, in consequence of misrepresentations made as 
to the food to be supplied on board, while there were loud 
protests against sending the people away without any 
medical man in charge. Through the activity and gener- 
ous sympathy of the late Mr. Stewart of Ensay, then 
tenant of Ellanreach, on the Glenelg property, who took 
the side of the people, matters were soon rectified. A doc- 
tor was secured, and the people satisfied as to the rations 
to be served out to them during the passage, though 
these did not come up to one-half what was originally 
promised. On the whole, Mr. Baillie behaved liberally, 
but, considering the suitability of the beautiful valley of 
Glenelg for arable and food-producing purposes, it is to 
be regretted that he did not decide upon utilizing the 
labour of the natives in bringing the district into a state of 
cultivation, rather than have paid so much to banish 
them to a foreign land. That they would themselves 
have preferred this is beyond question. 

Mr. Mulock, father of the author of " John Halifax, 
Gentleman," an Englishman who could not be charged 
with any preconceived prejudices or partiality for the 
Highlanders, travelled at this period through the whole 
North, and ultimately published an account of what he 
had seen. Regarding the Glenelg business, he says, as 
to their willingness to emigrate : " To suppose that 
numerous families would as a matter of choice sever them- 
selves from their loved soil, abolish all the associations 
of local and patriotic sentiment, fling to the winds every 
endearing recollection connected with the so journeying 
spot of vanished generations, and blot themselves, as it 
were, out of the book of ' home-born happiness,' is an 
hypothesis too unnatural to be encouraged by any sober, 
well-regulated mind." To satisfy himself, he called 
forty to fifty heads of families together at Glenelg, who 
had signed an agreement to emigrate, but who did not 
find room in the Liscard, and were left behind, after 
selling off everything they possessed, and were con- 
sequently reduced to a state of starvation. " I asked," 


he says, " these poor perfidiously treated creatures if, 
notwithstanding all their hardships, they were willing 
emigrants from their native land. With one voice they 
assured me that nothing short of the impossibility of 
obtaining land or employment at home could drive them 
to seek the doubtful benefits of a foreign shore. So far 
from the emigration being, at Glenelg, or Lochalsh, or 
South Uist, a spontaneous movement springing out of the 
wishes of the tenantry, I aver it to be, on the contrary, 
the product of desperation, the calamitous light of hope- 
less oppression visiting their sad hearts." We have no 
hesitation in saying that this is not only true of those to 
whom Mr. Mulock specially refers, but to almost every 
soul who have left the Highlands for the last sixty years. 
Only those who know the people intimately, and the 
means adopted by factors, clergy, and others to produce 
an appearance of spontaneity on the part of the helpless 
tenantry, can understand the extent to which this state- 
ment is true. If a judicious system had been applied 
of cultivating excellent land, capable of producing food in 
abundance, in Glenelg, there was not another property in 
the Highlands on which it was less necessary to send the 
people away than in that beautiful and fertile valley. 

Great numbers were evicted from the Cameron country 
of Lochaber, especially from Glendesseray and Loch- 
arkaig side. Indeed it is said that there were so few 
Camerons left in the district, that not a single tenant of 
the name attended the banquet given by the tenantry 
when the late Lochiel came into possession. The 
details of Cameron evictions would be found pretty much 
the same as those in other places, except that an attempt 
has been made in this case to hold the factor entirely 
and solely responsible for the removal of this noble people, 
so renowned in the martial history of the country. That is 
a question, however, which it is no part of our present 
purpose to discuss. What we wish to expose is the un- 
righteous system which allowed such cruel proceedings 
to take place here and elsewhere, by landlord or factor. 


The people of Skye and the Uist, where the Macdonalds 
for centuries ruled in the manner of princes over a loyal 
and devoted people, were treated not a whit better than 
those on the mainland, when their services were no longer 
required to fight the battles of the Lords of the Isles, or to 
secure to them their possessions, their dignity, and power. 
Bha latha eile ann ! There was another day ! When 
possessions were held by the sword, those who wielded 
them were highly valued, and well cared for. Now that 
sheep skins are found sufficient, what could be more 
appropriate in the opinion of some of the sheepish chiefs 
of modern times than to displace the people who anciently 
secured and held the lands for real chiefs worthy of the 
name, and replace them by the animals that produced the 
modern sheep skins by which they hold their lands j 
especially when these were found to be better titles than 
the old ones-the blood and sinew of their ancient vassals. 

Prior to 1849, tne manufacture of kelp in the Outer 
Hebrides had been for many years a large source of income 
to the proprietors of those islands, and a considerable 
revenue to the inhabitants \ the lairds, in consequence, 
for many years encouraged the people to remain, and it is 
alleged that they multiplied to a degree quite out of pro- 
portion to the means of subsistence within reach when 
kelp manufacture failed. To make matters worse for the 
poor tenants, the rents were meanwhile raised by the pro- 
prietors to more than double not because the land was 
considered worth more by itself, but because the posses- 
sion of it enabled the poor tenants to earn a certain sum 
a year from kelp made out of the sea-ware to which their 
holdings entitled them, and out of which the proprietor 
pocketed a profit of from 3 to 4 per ton, in addition to 
the enchanced rent obtained from the crofter for the 



land. In these circumstances one would have thought 
that some consideration would have been shown to the 
people, who, it may perhaps be admitted, were found in 
the altered circumstances too numerous to obtain a 
livelihood in those islands ; but such consideration does 
not appear to have been given indeed the very reverse. 


In 1849 Lord Macdonald determined to evict between 
600 and 700 persons from Sollas, in North Uist, of which 
he was then proprietor. They were at the time in a state 
of great misery from the failure of the potato crop for 
several years previously in succession, many of them 
having had to work for ninety-six hours a week for a 
pittance of two stones of Indian meal once a fortnight. 
Sometimes even that miserable dole was not forthcoming, 
and families had to live for weeks solely on shell-fish 
picked up on the sea-shore. Some of the men were em- 
ployed on drainage works, for which public money was 
advanced to the proprietors } but here, as in most other 
places throughout the Highlands, the money earned was 
applied by the factors to wipe off old arrears, while the 
people were permitted generally to starve. His lordship 
having decided that they must go, notices of ejectment 
were served upon them, to take effect on the I5th of May, 
1849. They asked for delay, to enable them to dispose 
of their cattle and other effects to the best advantage at 
the summer markets, and offered to work meanwhile 
making kelp, on terms which would prove remunerative 
to the proprietors, if only, in the altered circumstances, 
they might get their crofts on equitable terms for their 
value, as such apart from the kelp manufacture, on 
account of which the rents had previously been raised. 
Their petitions were ignored. No answers were received, 
while at the same time they were directed to sow as much 
corn and potatoes as they could during that spring, and 
for which, they were told, they would be fully compen- 
sated, whatever happened. They sold much of their 
effects to procure seed, and continued to work and sow up 


to and even after the I5th of May. They then began to 
cut their peats as usual, thinking they were after all to be 
allowed to get the benefit. They were, however, soon 
disappointed their goods were hypothecated. Many of 
them were turned out of their houses, the doors locked, 
and everything they possessed cattle, crops, and peats 
seized. Even their bits of furniture were thrown out of 
doors in the manner which had long become the fashion 
in such cases. The season was too far advanced to- 
wards the end of July to start for Canada. Before they 
could arrive there the cold winter would be upon them, 
without means or money to provide against it. They 
naturally rebelled, and the principal Sheriff -Substitute, 
Colquhoun, with his officers and a strong body of police 
left Inverness for North Uist, to eject them from their 
homes. Naturally unwilling to proceed to extremes, on 
the arrival of the steamer at Armadale, they sent a mes- 
senger ashore to ask for instructions to guide them in case 
of resistance, or if possible to obtain a modification of his 
lordship's views. Lord Macdonald had no instructions 
to give, but referred the Sheriff to Mr. Cooper, his factor, 
whose answer was that the whole population of Sollas 
would be subject to eviction if they did not at once agree 
to emigrate. A few men were arrested who obstructed 
the e victors on a previous occasion. They were marched 
off to Lochmaddy by the police. The work of destruction 
soon commenced. At first no opposition was made b> 
the poor people. An eye-witness, whose sympathies 
were believed to be favourable to the proprietor, des- 
scribes some of the proceedings as follows : 

" In evicting Macpherson, the first case taken up, 
no opposition to the law officers was made. In 
two or three minutes the few articles of furniture 
he possessed a bench, a chair, a broken chair, 
a barrel, a bag of wool, and two or three small articles, 
which comprised his whole household of goods and 
gear were turned out to the door, and his bothy- 
left roofless. The wife of the prisoner Macphail 
(one of those taken to Lochmaddy on the previous day) 
was the next evicted. Her domestic plenishing was of the 


simplest character its greatest, and by far its most 
valuable part, being three small children, dressed in noth- 
ing more than a single coat of coarse blanketing, who 
played about her knee, while the poor woman, herself 
half-clothed, with her face bathed in tears, and holding 
an infant in her arms, assured the Sheriff that she and her 
children were totally destitute and without food of any 
kind. The Sheriff at once sent for the Inspector of Poor, 
and ordered him to place the woman and her family on 
the poor's roll." 

The next house was occupied by very old and infirm 
people, whom the Sheriff positively refused to evict. He 
also refused to eject eight other families where an irregu- 
larity was discovered by him in the notices served upon 
them. The next family ejected led to the almost solitary 
instance hitherto in the history of Highland evictions where 
the people made anything like real resistance. This man 
was a crofter and weaver, having a wife and nine children 
to provide for. At this stage a crowd of men and women 
gathered on an eminence a little distance from the house, 
and gave the first indications of a hostile intention by 
raising shouts, as the police advanced to help in the work 
of demolition, accompanied by about a dozen men who 
came to their assistance in unroofing the houses from the 
other end of the island. The crowd, exasperated at the 
conduct of their own neighbours, threw some stones at 
the latter. The police were then drawn up in two lines. 
The furniture was thrown outside, the web was cut of the 
loom, and the terrified woman rushed to the door with a 
infant in her arms, exclaiming in a passionate and wailing 
voice " Tha mo chlann air a bhi' air a muirt " (My 
children are to be murdered) . The crowd became excited, 
stones were thrown at the officers, their assistants were 
driven from the roof of the house, and they had to retire 
behind the police for shelter. Volleys of stones and other 
missiles followed. The police charged in two divisions. 
There were some cuts and bruises on both sides. The 
work of demolition was then allowed to go on without 
further opposition from the crowd. 

Several heart-rending scenes followed, but we shall only 


give a description of the last which took place on that 
occasion, and which brought about a little delay in the 
cruel woik. In one case it was found necessary to remove 
the women out of the house by force. " One of them 
threw herself upon the ground and fell into hysterics, 
uttering the most doleful sounds, and barking and yelling 
like a dog for about ten minutes. Another, with many 
tears, sobs, and groans put up a petition to the Sheriff 
that they would leave the roof over part of her house, 
where she had a loom with cloth in it, which she was 
weaving ' and a third woman, the eldest of the family, 
made an attack with a stick on an officer, and, missing 
him, she sprang upon him, and knocked off his hat. So 
violently did this old woman conduct herself that two 
stout policemen had great difficulty in carrying her out- 
side the door. The excitement was again getting so 
strong that the factor, seeing the determination of the 
people, and finding that if he continued and took their 
crops away from those who would not leave, even when 
their houses were pulled down about their ears, they 
would have to be fed and maintained at the expense of 
the parish during the forthcoming winter, relaxed and 
agreed to allow them to occupy their houses until next 
spring, if the heads of families undertook and signed an 
agreement to emigrate any time next year, from the ist 
of February to the end of June. Some agreed to these 
conditions, but the majority declined ; and, in the cir- 
cumstances, the people were permitted to go back to their 
unroofed and ruined homes for a few months longer. 
Their cattle were, however, mostly taken possession of, 
and applied to the reduction of old arrears." 

Four of the men were afterwards charged with deforcing 
the officers, and sentenced at Inverness Court of 
Justiciary each to four months' imprisonment. The fol- 
lowing year the district was completely and mercilessly 
cleared of all its remaining inhabitants, numbering 603 

* A very full account of these proceedings, written on the spot, 
appeared at the time in the Inverness Courier, to which we 
are indebted for the above facts. 


The Sollas evictions did not satisfy the evicting craze 
which his lordship afterwards so bitterly regretted. In 
1851-53, he, or rather his trustee, determined to evict the 
people from the villages of 


His lordship's position in regard to the proceedings was 
most unfortunate. Donald Ross, writing as an eye- 
witness of these evictions, says 

" Some years ago Lord Macdonald incurred debts 
on his property to the extent of 200,000 sterling, 
and his lands being entailed, his creditors could 
not dispose of them, but they placed a trustee 
over them in order to intercept certain portions 
of the rent in payment of the debt. Lord Macdonald, 
of course, continues to have an interest and a sur- 
veillance over the property in the matter of removals, 
the letting of the fishings and shootings, and the general 
improvement of his estates. The trustee and the local 
factor under him have no particular interest in the pro- 
perty, nor in the people thereon, beyond collecting their 
quota of the rents for the creditors ; consequently the 
property is mismanaged, and the crofter and cottar popu- 
lation are greatly neglected. The tenants of Suisinish 
and Boreraig were the descendants of a long line of 
peasantry on the Macdonald estates, and were remarkable 
for their patience, loyalty, and general good conduct." 

The only plea made at the time for evicting them was 
that of over-population. Ten families received the usual 
summonses, and passages were secured for them in the 
Hercules, an unfortunate ship which sailed with a cargo 
of passengers under the auspices of a body calling itself 
" The Highland and Island Emigration Society." A 
deadly fever broke out among the passengers, the ship was 
detained at Cork in consequence, and a large number 
of the passengers died of the epidemic. After the sad 
fate of so many of those previously cleared out, in the 
ill-fated ship, it was generally thought that some com- 
passion would be shown for those who had been still 


permitted to remain. Not so, however. On the 4th of 
April, 1853, they were all warned out of their holdings. 
They petitioned and pleaded with his lordship to no pur- 
pose. They were ordered to remove their cattle from 
the pasture, and themselves from their houses and lands. 
They again petitioned his lordship for his merciful con- 
sideration. For a time no reply was forthcoming. 
Subsequently, however, they were informed that they 
would get land on another part of the estate portions 
of a barren moor, quite unfit for cultivation. 

In the middle of September following, Lord Macdon- 
ald's ground officer, with a body of constables, arrived, 
and at once proceeded to eject in the most heartless 
manner the whole population, numbering thirty-two 
families, and that at a period when the able-bodied male 
members of the families were away from home trying to 
earn something by which to pay their rents, and help to 
carry their families through the coming winter. In 
spite of the wailing of the helpless women and children, 
the cruel work was proceeded with as rapidly as possible, 
and without the slightest apparent compunction. The 
furniture was thrown out in what had now become the 
orthodox fashion. The aged and infirm, some of them 
so frail that they could not move, were pushed or carried 
out. " The scene was truly heart-rending. The women 
and children went about tearing their hair, and rending 
the heavens with their cries. Mothers with tender in- 
fants at the breast looked helplessly on, while their effects 
and their aged and infirm relatives, were cast out, and the 
doors of their houses locked in their faces." The young 
children, poor, helpless, little creatures, gathered in 
groups, gave vent to their feelings in loud and bitter 
wailings. " No mercy was shown to age or sex, all 
were indiscriminately thrust out and left to perish on the 
hills." Untold cruelties were perpetrated on this occa- 
sion on the helpless creatures during the absence of their 
husbands and other principal bread-winners. 

Donald Ross in his pamphlet, " Real Scottish 
Grievances," published in 1854, and who not only was 
an eye-witness, but generously supplied the people with 


a great quantity of food and clothing, describes several 
of the cases. I can only find room here, however, for 
his first. 

Flora Robertson or Matheson, a widow, aged ninety-six 
years, then residing with her son, Alexander Matheson, 
who had a small lot of land in Suisinish. Her son was a 
widower, with four children ; and shortly before the time 
for evicting the people arrived, he went away to labour 
at harvest in the south, taking his oldest boy with him. 
The grandmother and the other three children were left in 
the house. " When the evicting officers and factor ar- 
rived, the poor old woman was sitting on a couch outside 
the house. The day being fine, her grandchildren lifted 
her out of her bed and brought her to the door. She was 
very frail ; and it would have gladdened any heart to 
have seen how the two youngest of her grandchildren 
helped her along ; how they seated her where there was 
most shelter and then, how they brought her some cloth- 
ing and clad her, and endeavoured to make her comfort- 
able. The gratitude of the old woman was unbounded 
at these little acts of kindness and compassion } and the 
poor children, on the other hand, felt highly pleased at 
rinding their services so well appreciated. The sun was 
shining beautifully, the air was refreshing, the gentle 
breeze wafted across the hills, and, mollified by passing 
over the waters of Loch Slapin, brought great relief and 
vigour to poor old Flora. Often with eyes directed to- 
wards heaven, and with uplifted hands, did she invoke the 
blessings of the God of Jacob on the young children who 
were ministering so faithfully to her bodily wants. 

Nothing could exceed the beauty of the scene. The sea 
was glittering with millions of little waves and globules, 
and looked like a lake of silver, gently agitated. The 
hills, with the heather in full bloom, and with the wild 
flowers in their beauty, had assumed all the colours of the 
rainbow, and were most pleasant to the eye to look 
upon. The crops of corn in the neighbourhood were 
beginning to get yellow for the harvest ; the small 
patches of potatoes were under flower, and promised well 
the sheep and cattle, as if tired of feeding, had lain down 


to rest on the face of the hills ; and the dogs, as if satisfied 
their services were not required for a time, chose for 
themselves pleasant, well-sheltered spots and lay basking 
at full length in the sun. Even the little boats on the loch, 
though their sails were spread, made no progress, but 
lay at rest, reflecting their own tiny shadows on the 
bosom of the deep and still waters. The scene was most 
enchanting ; and, although old Flora's eyes were getting 
dim with age, she looked on the objects before her with 
great delight. Her grandchildren brought her a cup of 
warm milk and some bread from a neighbour's house, and 
tried to feed her as if she had been a pet bird ; but the 
old woman could not take much, although she was greatly 
invigorated by the change of air. Nature seemed to take 
repose. A white fleecy cloud now and then ascended, 
but the sun soon dispelled it ; thin wreaths of cottage 
smoke went up and along, but there was no wind to move 
them, and they floated on the air ; and, indeed, with the 
exception of a stream which passed near the house, and 
made a continuous noise in its progress over rocks and 
stones, there was nothing above or around to disturb the 
eye or the ear for one moment. While the old woman 
was thus enjoying the benefit of the fresh air, admiring 
the beauty of the landscape, and just when the poor chil- 
dren had entered the house to prepare a frugal meal for 
themselves, and their aged charge, a sudden barking of 
dogs gave signal intimation of the approach of strangers. 
The native inquisitiveness of the young ones was im- 
mediately set on edge, and off they set across the fields, 
and over fences, after the dogs. They soon returned, 
however, with horror depicted in their countenances ; 
they had a fearful tale to unfold. The furniture and other 
effects of their nearest neighbours, just across the hill, 
they saw thrown out ; they heard the children screaming, 
and they saw the factor's men putting bars and locks on 
the doors. This was enough. The heart of the old 
woman, so recently revived and invigorated, was now like 
to break within her. What was she to do ? What could 
she do ? Absolutely nothing ! The poor children, in the 
plenitude of their knowledge of the humanity of lords and 


factors, thought that if they could only get their aged 
grannie inside before the evicting officers arrived, that 
would be safe, as no one, they thought, would interfere 
with an old creature of ninety-six, especially when her 
son was not there to take charge of her ; and, acting 
upon this supposition, they began to remove their grand- 
mother into the house. The officers, however, arrived 
before they could get this accomplished ; and in place of 
letting the old woman in, they threw out before the door 
every article that was inside the house, and then they 
placed large bars and padlocks on the door ! The grand- 
children were horror-struck at this procedure and no 
wonder. Here they were, shut out of house and home, 
their father and elder brother several hundred miles 
away from them, their mother dead, and their grand- 
mother, now aged, frail, and unable to move, sitting be- 
fore them, quite unfit to help herself, and with no other 
shelter than the broad canopy of heaven. Here, then, 
was a crisis, a predicament, that would have twisted the 
strongest nerve and tried the stoutest heart and healthi- 
est frame, -with nothing but helpless infancy and old 
age and infirmities to meet it. We cannot comprehend 
the feelings of the poor children on this occasion ] and 
cannot find language sufficiently strong to express 
condemnation of those who rendered them houseless. 
Shall we call them savages ? That would be paying them 
too high a compliment, for among savages conduct such 
as theirs is unknown. But let us proceed. After the 
grandchildren had cried until they were hoarse, and after 
their little eyes had emptied themselves of the tears 
which anguish, sorrow, and terror had accumulated within 
them, and when they had exhausted their strength in the 
general wail, along with the other children of the district, 
as house after house was swept of its furniture, the in- 
mates evicted, and the doors locked, they returned to 
their poor old grandmother, and began to exchange 
sorrows and consolations with her. But what could the 
poor children do ? The shades of evening were closing 
in, and the air, which at mid-day was fresh and balmy, 
was now cold and freezing. The neighbours were all 


locked out, and could give no shelter, and the old woman 
was unable to travel to where lodgings for the night could 
be got. What were they to do ? We may rest satisfied 
that their minds were fully occupied with their unfor- 
tunate condition, and that they had serious consulta- 
tions as to future action. The first consideration, how- 
ever, was shelter for the first night, and a sheep-cot 
being near, the children prepared to remove the old 
woman to it. True, it was small and damp, and it had 
no door, no fire-place, no window, no bed, but then, it 
was better than exposure to the night air ; and this they 
represented to their grandmother, backing it with all the 
other little bits of arguments they could advance, and 
with professions of sincere attachment which, coming 
from such a quarter, and at such a period, gladdened her 
old heart. There was a difficulty, however, which they 
at first overlooked. The grandmother could not walk, 
and the distance was some hundreds of yards, and they 
could get no assistance, for all the neighbours were 
similarly situated, and were weeping and wailing for the 
distress which had come upon them. Here was a 
dilemma ; but the children helped the poor woman to 
creep along, sometimes she walked a few yards, at other 
times she crawled on her hands and knees, and in this 
way, and most materially aided by her grandchildren, 
she at last reached the cot. 

The sheep-cot was a most wretched habitation, quite 
unfit for human beings, yet here the widow was com- 
pelled to remain until the month of December following. 
When her son came home from the harvest in the south, 
he was amazed at the treatment his aged mother and his 
children had received. He was then in good health ; 
but in a few weeks the cold and damp of the sheep-cot 
had a most deadly effect upon his health, for he was seized 
with violent cramps, then with cough ' at last his limbs 
and body swelled, and then he died ! When dead, his 
corpse lay across the floor, his feet at the opposite wall, 
and his head being at the door, the wind waved his long 
black hair to and fro until he was placed in his coffin. 

The inspector of poor, who, be it remembered, was 


ground officer to Lord Macdonald, and also acted as the 
chief officer in the evictions, at last appeared, and re- 
moved the old woman to another house ; not, however, 
until he was threatened with a prosecution for neglect of 
duty. The grandchildren were also removed from the 
sheep-cot, for they were ill ; Peggy and William were 
seriously so, but Sandy, although ill, could walk a little. 
The inspector for the poor gave the children, during their 
illness, only 14 fbs. of meal and 3 Fbs. of rice, as aliment 
for three weeks, and nothing else. To the grandmother 
he allowed two shillings and sixpence per month, but 
made no provision for fuel, lodgings, nutritious diet, or 
cordials all of which this old woman much required. 

When I visited the house where old Flora Matheson 
and her grandchildren reside, I found her lying on a 
miserable pallet of straw, which, with a few rags of cloth- 
ing, are on the bare floor. She is reduced to a skeleton, 
and from her own statement to me, in presence of wit- 
nesses, coupled with other inquiries and examinations, 
I have no hesitation in declaring tha she was then 
actually starving. She had no nourishment, no cordials, 
nothing whatever in the way of food but a few wet pota- 
toes and two or three shell-fish. The picture she pre- 
sented, as she lay on her wretched pallet of black rags 
and brown straw, with her mutch as black as soot, and 
her long arms thrown across, with nothing on them but 
the skin, was a most lamentable one and one that re- 
flects the deepest discredit on the parochial authorities 
of Strath. There was no one to attend to the wants or 
infirmities of this aged pauper but her grandchild, a 
young girl, ten years of age. Surely in a country boasting 
of its humanity, liberty, and Christianity, such conduct 
should not be any longer tolerated in dealing with the 
infirm and helpless poor. The pittance of 2S. 6d. a month 
is but a mockery of the claims of this old woman ; it is 
insulting to the commonsense and every-day experience 
of people of feeling, and it is a shameful evasion of the 
law. But for accidental charity, and that from a dis- 
tance, Widow Matheson would long ere this have per- 
ished of starvation. 


Three men were afterwards charged with deforcing the 
officers of the law before the Court of Justiciary at Inver- 
ness. They were first imprisoned at Portree, and after- 
wards marched on foot to Inverness, a distance of over a 
hundred miles, where they arrived two days before the 
date of their trial. The factor and sheriff-officers came 
in their conveyances, at the public expense, and lived 
right loyally, never dreaming but they would obtain a 
victory, and get the three men sent to the Penitentiary, 
to wear hoddy, break stones, or pick oakum for at least 
twelve months. The accused, through the influence of 
charitable friends, secured the services of Mr. Rennie, 
solicitor, Inverness, who was able to show to the jury 
the unfounded and farcical nature of the charges made 
against them. His eloquent and able address to the jury 
in their behalf was irresistible, and we cannot better 
explain the nature of the proceedings than by quoting 
it in part from the report given of it, at the time, in the 
Inverness Advertiser : " 

" Before proceeding to comment on the evidence in 
this case, he would call attention to its general features. 
It was one of a fearful series of ejectments now being 
carried through in the Highlands ; and it really became a 
matter of serious reflection, how far the pound of flesh 
allowed by law was to be permitted to be extracted from 
the bodies of the Highlanders. Here were thirty-two 
families, averaging four members each, or from 130 to 
150 in all, driven out from their houses and happy 
homes, and for what ? For a tenant who, he believed, 
was not yet found. But it was the will of Lord Mac- 
donald and of Messrs. Brown and Ballingal, that they 
should be ejected; and the civil law having failed them, 
the criminal law with all its terrors, is called in to over- 
whelm these unhappy people. But, thank God, it has 
come before a jury before you, who are sworn to return, 
and will return, an impartial verdict ; and which verdict 
will, I trust, be one that will stamp out with ignominy the 
cruel actors in it. The Duke of Newcastle had querulously 
asked, ' Could he not do as he liked with his own ? ' but 
a greater man had answered, that ' property had its 



duties as well as its rights/ and the concurrent opinion 
of an admiring age testified to this truth. Had the factor 
here done his duty ? No ! He had driven the miserable 
inhabitants out to the barren heaths and wet mosses. 
He had come with the force of the civil power to dis- 
possess them, and make way for sheep and cattle. But 
had he provided adequate refuge ? The evictions in 
Knoydart, which had lately occupied the attention of the 
press and all thinking men, were cruel enough * but there 
a refuge was provided for a portion of the evicted, and 
ships for their conveyance to a distant land. Would 
such a state of matters be tolerated in a country where a 
single spark of Highland spirit existed ? No ! Their 
verdict that day would proclaim, over the length and 
breadth of the land, an indignant denial. Approaching 
the present case more minutely, he would observe that 
the prosecutor, by deleting from this libel the charge of 
obstruction, which was passive, had cut away the ground 
from under his feet. The remaining charge of deforce- 
ment being active, pushing, shoving, or striking, was 
essential. But he would ask, What was the character of 
the village, and the household of Macinnes ? There were 
mutual remonstrances \ but was force used ? The only 
things the officer, Macdonald, seized were carried out. A 
spade and creel were talked of as being taken from him, 
but in this he was unsupported. The charge against the 
panel, Macinnes, only applied to what took place inside 
his house. As to the other panels, John Macrae was 
merely present. He had a right to be there ; but he 
touched neither man nor thing, and he at any rate must 
be acquitted. Even with regard to Duncan Macrae, the 
evidence quoad him was contemptible. According to 
Allison, in order to constitute the crime of deforcement, 
there must be such violence as to intimidate a person of 
ordinary firmness of character. Now, there was no viol- 
ence here, they did not even speak aloud, they merely 
stood in the door ; that might be obstruction, it was 
certainly not deforcement. Had Macdonald, who it 
appeared combined in his single person the triple offices 
of sheriff-officer, ground-officer, and inspector of poor, 


known anything of his business, and gone about it in a 
proper and regular manner, the present case would never 
have been heard of. As an instance of his irregularity, 
whilst his execution of deforcement bore that he read his 
warrants, he by his own mouth, stated that he only read 
part of them. Something was attempted to be made of 
the fact of Duncan Macrae seizing one of the constables 
and pulling him away ; but this was done in a good- 
natured manner, and the constable admitted he feared 
no violence. In short, it would be a farce to call this a 
case of deforcement. As to the general character of the 
panels, it was unreproached and irreproachable, and their 
behaviour on that day was their best certificate." 

The jury immediately returned a verdict of " Not 
guilty," and the poor Skyemen were dismissed from the 
bar, amid the cheers of an Inverness crowd. The fami- 
lies of these men were at the next Christmas evicted in the 
most spiteful and cruel manner, delicate mothers, half- 
dressed, and recently-born infants, having been pushed 
out into the drifting snow. Their few bits of furniture, 
blankets and other clothing lay for days under the snow, 
while they found shelter themselves as best they could in 
broken-down, dilapidated out-houses and barns. These 
latter proceedings were afterwards found to have been 
illegal, the original summonses, on which the second pro- 
ceedings were taken, having been exhausted in the previ- 
ous evictions, when the Macinneses and the Macraes 
were unsuccessfully charged with deforcing the sheriff- 
officers. The proceedings were universally condemned 
by every right-thinking person who knew the district, 
as quite uncalled for, most unjustifiable and improper, 
as well as for " the reckless cruelty and inhumanity with 
which they were carried through." Yet, the factor issued 
a circular in defence of such horrid work in which he 
coolly informed the public that these evictions were 
" prompted by motives of benevolence, piety, and hum- 
anity," and that the cause for them all was " because 
they (the people) were too far from Church." Oh God ! 
what crimes have been committed in Thy name, and in 
that of religion ! Preserve us from such piety and hu- 


nianity as were exhibited by Lord Macdonald and his 
factor on this and other occasions. 


Before leaving Skye, it will be interesting to see the 
difference of opinion which existed among the chiefs 
regarding the eviction of the people at this period and a 
century earlier. We have just seen what a Lord Macdon- 
ald has done in the present century, little more than thirty 
years ago. Let us compare his proceedings and feelings 
to those of his ancestor, in 1739, a century earlier. In 
that year a certain Norman Macleod managed to get some 
islanders to emigrate, and it was feared that Govern- 
ment would hold Sir Alexander Macdonald of Sleat re- 
sponsible, as he was reported to have encouraged Macleod. 

The baronet being from home, his wife, Lady Margaret, 
wrote to Lord Justice-Clerk Milton on the ist of January, 
1740, pleading with him to use all his influence against a 
prosecution of her husband, which, " tho' it cannot be 
dangerouse to him, yett it cannot faill of being both 
troublesome and expensive." She begins her letter by 
stating that she was informed " by different hands 
from Edinburgh that there is a currant report of a 
ship's haveing gone from thiss country with a greate 
many people designed for America, and that Sir Alex- 
ander is thought to have concurred in forceing these 
people away." She then declares the charge against her 
husband to be "a falsehood," but she " is quite ac- 
quainted with the danger of a report " of that nature. 
Instead of Sir Alexander being a party to the proceedings 
of this " Norman Macleod, with a number of fellows that 
he had picked up execute his intentions," he " was both 
angry and concern' d to hear that some of his oune people 
were taken in thiss affair." 

What a contrast between the sentiments here 
expressed and those which carried out the modern 
evictions ! And yet it is well-known that, in other 
respects no more humane man ever lived than he 
who was nominally responsible for the cruelties in Skye 


and at Sollas. He allowed himself to be imposed upon by 
others, and completely abdicated his high functions as 
landlord and chief of his people. We have the most 
conclusive testimony and assurance from one who knew 
his lordship intimately, that, to his dying day, he never 
ceased to regret what had been done in his name, and at 
the time, with his tacit approval, in Skye and in North 


Napoleon Bonaparte, at one time, took 500 prisoners 
and was unable to provide food for them. I^et them go he 
would not, though he saw that they would perish by 
famine. His ideas of mercy suggested to him to have 
them all shot. They were by his orders formed into a 
square, and 2000 French muskets with ball cartridge 
was simultaneously levelled at them, which soon put the 
disarmed mass of human beings out of pain. Donald 
Macleod refers to this painful act as follows : 

" All the Christian nations of Europe were horrified, 
every breast was full of indignation at the per- 
petrator of this horrible tragedy, and France wept 
bitterly for the manner in which the tender mercies 
of their wicked Emperor were exhibited. Ah! but 
guilty Christians, you Protestant law-making Britain, 
tremble when you look towards the great day of 
retribution. Under the protection of your law, 
Colonel Gordon has consigned 1500 men, women, and 
children, to a death a hundred-fold more agonising and 
horrifying. With the sanction of your law he (Colonel 
Gordon) and his predecessors, in imitation of his Grace 
the Duke of Sutherland and his predecessors, removed 
the people from the land created by God, suitable for 
cultivation, and for the use of man, and put it under 
brute animals ; and threw the people upon bye-corners, 
precipices, and barren moors, there exacting exorbitant 
rack-rents, until the people were made penniless, so that 
they could neither leave the place nor better their con- 
dition in it. The potato-blight blasted their last hopes 


of retaining life upon the unproductive patches hence 
they became clamourous for food. Their distress was 
made known through the public press ; public meetings 
were held, and it was managed by some known knaves 
to saddle the God of providence with the whole misery a 
job in which many of God's professing and well-paid 
servants took a very active part. The generous public 
responded ; immense sums of money were placed in the 
hands of Government agents and other individuals, to 
save the people from death by famine on British soil. 

" Colonel Gordon and his worthy allies were silent con- 
tributors, though terrified. The gallant gentleman solicited 
Government, through the Home Secretary, to purchase 
the Island of Barra for a penal colony, but it would not 
suit. Yet our humane Government sympathised with the 
Colonel and his coadjutors, and consulted the honour- 
able and brave MacNeil, the chief pauper ganger of Scot- 
land, upon the most effective and speediest scheme to 
relieve the gallant Colonel and colleagues from this clamour 
and eye-sore, as well as to save their pockets from able- 
bodied paupers. The result was, that a liberal grant 
from the public money, which had been granted a twelve- 
month before for the purpose of improving and culti- 
vating the Highlands, was made to Highland proprietors 
to assist them to drain the nation of its best blood, and 
to banish the Highlanders across the Atlantic, there to 
die by famine among strangers in the frozen regions of 
Canada, far from British sympathy, and far from the 
resting-place of their brave ancestors, though the idea of 
mingling with kindred dust, to the Highlanders, is a con- 
solation at death, more than any other race of people I 
have known or read of under heaven. 

" Oh ! Christian people, Christian people, Christian 
fathers and mothers, who are living at ease, and 
never experienced such treatment and concomitant 
sufferings ; you Christian rulers, Chrstian electors, 
and representatives, permit not Christianity to 
blush and hide her face with shame before 
heathenism and idolatry any longer. I speak 
with reverence when I say, permit not Mahomet Ali to 


deride our Saviour with the conduct of His followers 
allow not demons to exclaim in the face of heaven, 
' What can you expect of us, when Christians, thy chosen 
people, are guilty of such deeds of inhumanity to their own 
species ? " 

" Come, then, for the sake of neglected humanity 
and prostrated Christianity, and look at this help- 
less, unfortunate people ; place yourselves for a 
moment in their hopeless condition at their em- 
barkation, decoyed, in the name of the British Govern- 
ment, by false promises of assistance, to procure homes 
and comforts in Canada, which were denied to them at 
home decoyed, I say, to an unwilling and partial con- 
sent and those who resisted or recoiled from this con- 
ditional consent, and who fled to the caves and mountains 
to hide themselves from the brigands, look at them, 
chased and caught by policemen, constables, and other 
underlings of Colonel Gordon, handcuffed, it is said, and 
huddled together with the rest on an emigrant vessel. 
Hear the sobbing, sighing, and throbbings of their 
guileless, warm Highland hearts, taking their last look, 
and bidding a final adieu to their romantic mountains 
and valleys, the fertile straths, dales, and glens, which 
their forefathers from time immemorial inhabited, and 
where they are now lying in undisturbed and everlasting 
repose, in spots endeared and sacred to the memory of 
their unfortunate offspring, who must now bid a mourn- 
ful farewell to their early associations, which were as 
dear and as sacred to them as their very existence, and 
which had hitherto made them patient in suffering. But 
follow them on their six weeks' dreary passage, rolling 
upon the mountainous billows of the Atlantic, ill-fed, 
ill-clad, among sickness, disease, and excrements. Then 
come ashore with them where death is in store for them 
hear the captain giving orders to discharge the cargo of 
live stock see the confusion, hear the noise, the bitter 
weeping and bustle ; hear mothers and children asking 
fathers and husbands, where are we going ? hear the 
reply, ' chan eil fios againn ' we know not ; see them in 
groups in search of the Government Agent, who, they 


were told, was to give them money ; look at their des- 
pairing countenances when they come to learn that no 
agent in Canada is authorised to give them a penny \ 
hear them praying the captain to bring them back that 
they might die among their native hills, that their ashes 
might mingle with those of their forefathers \ hear this 
request refused, and the poor helpless wanderers bidding 
adieu to the captain and crew, who showed them all the 
kindness they could, and to the vessel to which they 
formed something like an attachment during the voyage \ 
look at them scantily clothed, destitute of food, without 
implements of husbandry, consigned to their fate, carry- 
ing their children on their backs, begging as they crawl 
along in a strange land, unqualified to beg or buy their 
food for want of English, until the slow moving and 
mournful company reach Toronto and Hamilton, in 
Upper Canada, where, according to all accounts, they 
spread themselves over their respective bury ing- places, 
where famine and frost-bitten deaths were awaiting them. 
" This is a painful picture, the English language 
fails to supply me with words to describe it. I wish 
the spectrum would depart from me to those who 
could describe it and tell the result. But how can 
Colonel Gordon, the Duke of Sutherland, James Loch, 
Lord Macdonald, and others of the unhallowed league and 
abettors, after looking at this sight, remain in Christian 
communion, ruling elders in Christian Churches, and 
partake of the emblems of Christ's body broken and shed 
blood ? But the great question is, Can we as a nation 
be guiltless and allow so many of our fellow creatures to 
be treated in such a manner, and not exert ourselves 
to put a stop to it and punish the perpetrators ? Is 
ambition, which attempted to dethrone God, become 
omnipotent, or so powerful, when incarnated in the shape 
of Highland dukes, lords, esquires, colonels, and 
knights, that we must needs submit to its revolting 
deeds ? Are parchment rights of property so sacred that 
thousands of human beings must be sacrificed year after 
year, till there is no end of such, to preserve them invio- 
late ? Are sheep walks, deer forests, hunting parks, 


and game preserves, so beneficial to the nation that the 
Highlands must be converted into a hunting desert, and 
the aborigines banished and murdered ? I know that 
thousands will answer in the negative * yet they will fold 
their arms in criminal apathy until the extirpation and 
destruction of my race shall be completed. Fearful is 
the catalogue of those who have already become the 
victims of the cursed clearing system in the Highlands, 
by famine, fire, drowning, banishment, vice, and crime." 

He then publishes the following communication from 
an eye-witness, on the enormities perpetrated in South 
Uist and in the Island of Barra in the summer of 1851 : 

" The unfeeling and deceitful conduct of those acting for 
Colonel Gordon cannot be too strongly censured. The 
duplicity and art which was used by them in order to 
entrap the unwary natives, is worthy of the craft and 
cunning of an old slave-trader. Many of the poor people 
were told in my hearing that Sir John M'Neil would be in 
Canada before them, where he would have every necessary 
prepared for them. Some of the officials signed a docu- 
ment binding themselves to emigrate, in order to induce 
the poor people to give their names ; but in spite of all 
these stratagems, many of the people saw through them 
and refused out and out to go. When the transports 
anchored in Loch Boisdale these tyrants threw off their 
masks, and the work of devastation and cruelty com- 
menced. The poor people were commanded to attend a 
public meeting at I/och Boisdale, where the transports 
lay, and, according to the intimation, any one absenting 
himself from the meeting was to be fined in the sum of 
two pounds sterling. At this meeting some of the 
natives were seized and, in spite of their entreaties, sent 
on board the transports. One stout Highlander, named 
Angus Johnston, resisted with such pith that they had to 
handcuff him before he could be mastered ; but in con- 
sequence of the priest's interference his manacles were 
removed, and he was marched between four officers on 
board the emigrant vessel. One morning, during the 
transporting season, we were suddenly awakened by the 
screams of a young female who had been re-captured in 


an adjoining house, she having escaped after her first 
capture. We all rushed to the door, and saw the broken- 
hearted creature, with dishevelled hair and swollen face, 
dragged away by two constables and a ground officer. 
Were you to see the racing and chasing of policemen, 
constables, and ground officers, pursuing the outlawed 
natives, you would think, only for their colour, that you 
had been, by some miracle, transported to the banks of 
the Gambia, on the slave coast of Africa. 

"The conduct of the Rev. H. Beatson on that occasion is 
deserving of the censure of every feeling heart. This 
' wolf in sheeps' clothing ' made himself very officious, 
as he always does, when he has an opportunity of opprsse- 
ing the poor Barra men, and of gaining the favour of 
Colonel Gordon. In fact, he is the most vigilant and assid- 
uous officer Colonel Gordon has. He may be seen in Castle 
Bay, the principal anchorage in Barra, whenever a sail is 
hoisted, directing his men, like a gamekeeper with his 
hounds, in case any of the doomed Barra men should 
escape. He offered one day to board an Arran boat, that 
had a poor man concealed, but the master, John Crawford, 
lifted a hand-spike and threatened to split the skull of 
the first man who would attempt to board his boat, and 
thus the poor Barra man escaped their clutches. 

" I may state in conclusion that, two girls, daughters of 
John Macdougall, brother of Barr Macdougall, whose 
name is mentioned in Sir John M'NeiTs report, have fled 
to the mountains to elude the grasp of the expatriators, 
where they still are, if in life. Their father, a frail, old 
man, along with the rest of the family, has been sent to 
Canada. The respective ages of these girls are 12 and 
14 years. Others have fled in the same way, but I 
cannot give their names just now."* 

We shall now take the reader after these people to 
Canada, and witness their deplorable and helpless con- 
dition and privations in a strange land. The following 
is extracted from a Quebec newspaper : 

" We noticed in our last the deplorable condition of the 
600 paupers who were sent to this country from the Kil- 

*See Note B in Appendices. 


rush Unions. We have to-day a still more dismal pic- 
ture to draw. Many of our readers may not be aware 
that there lives such a personage as Colonel Gordon, 
proprietor of large estates in South Uist and Barra, in 
the Highlands of Scotland. We are sorry to be obliged 
to introduce him to their notice under circumstances 
which will not give them a very favourable opinion of his 
character and heart. 

" It appears that his tenants on the above-mentioned 
estates were on the verge of starvation, and had probably 
become an eye-sore to the gallant Colonel ! He decided 
on shipping them to America. What they were to do 
there was a question he never put to his conscience. 
Once landed in Canada, he had no further concern about 
them. Up to last week, some noo souls from his estates 
had landed at Quebec, and begged their way to Upper 
Canada ; when in the summer season, having only a daily 
morsel of food to procure, they probably escaped the 
extreme misery which seems to be the lot of those who 
followed them. 

" On their arrival here, they voluntarily made and signed 
the following statement : ' We, the undersigned pas- 
sengers per Admiral, from Stornoway, in the Highlands 
of Scotland, do solemnly depose to the following facts : 
That Colonel Gordon is proprietor of estates in South 
Uist and Barra ; that among many hundreds of tenants 
and cottars whom he has sent this season from his estates 
to Canada, he gave directions to his factor, Mr. Fleming of 
Cluny Castle, Aberdeenshire, to ship on board of the 
above-named vessel a number of nearly 450 of said 
tenants and cottars, from the estate in Barra ; that, 
accordingly, a great majority of these people, among 
whom were the undersigned, proceeded voluntarily to 
embark on board the Admiral, at Loch Boisdale, on or 
about the nth August, 1851 ; but that several of the 
people who were intended to be shipped for this port, 
Quebec, refused to proceed on board, and, in fact, 
absconded from their homes to avoid the embarkation. 
Whereupon Mr. Fleming gave orders to a policeman, 
who was accompanied by the ground officer of the estate 


in Barra, and some constables, to pursue the people, 
who had run away, among the mountains ; which they 
did, and succeeded in capturing about twenty from the 
mountains and islands in the neighbourhood ; but only 
came with the officers on an attempt being made to 
handcuff them ; and that some who ran away were not 
brought back, in consequence of which four families at 
least have been divided, some having come in the ships 
to Quebec, while the other members of the same families 
are left in the Highlands. 

'The undersigned further declare that those who 
voluntarily embarked did so under promises to the 
effect that Colonel Gordon would defray their passage to 
Quebec ; that the Government Emigration Agent there 
would send the whole party free to Upper Canada, where, 
on arrival, the Government agents would give them work, 
and furthermore, grant them land on certain conditions. 

' The undersigned finally declare, that they are now 
landed in Quebec so destitute, that if immediate relief be 
not afforded them, and continued until they are settled in 
employment, the whole will be liable to perish with want.' 

(Signed) " HECTOR LAMONT, 
and 70 others. 

" This is a beautiful picture ! Had the scene been laid 
in Russia or Turkey, the barbarity of the proceeding 
would have shocked the nerves of the reader ; but when 
it happens in Britain, emphatically the land of liberty, 
where every man's house, even the hut of the poorest, is 
said to be his castle, the expulsion of these unfortunate 
creatures from their homes the man-hunt with police- 
men and bailiffs the violent separation of families the 
parent torn from the child, the mother from her daughter, 
the infamous trickery practised on those who did embark 
the abandonment of the aged, the infirm, women, 
and tender children, in a foreign land forms a tableau 
which cannot be dwelt on for an instant without horror. 
Words cannot depict the atrocity of the deed. For 
cruelty less savage, the slave-dealers of the South have 
been held up to the execration of the world. 


" And if, as men, the sufferings of these our fellow- 
creatures find sympathy in our hearts, as Canadians 
their wrongs concern us more dearly. The fifteen hun- 
dred souls whom Colonel Gordon has sent to Quebec this 
season have all been supported for the past week, at least, 
and conveyed to Upper Canada at the expense of the 
colony ; and on their arrival in Toronto and Hamilton 
the greater number have been dependent on the charity 
of the benevolent for a morsel of bread. Four hundred 
are in the river at present, and will arrive in a day or two, 
making a total of nearly 2000 of Colonel Gordon's tenants 
and cottars whom the province will have to support. 
The winter is at hand, work is becoming scarce in Upper 
Canada. Where are these people to find food ?" * 

We take the following from an Upper Canadian paper 
describing the position of the same people after finding 
their way to Ontario : 

" We have been pained beyond measure for some 
time past to witness in our streets so many un- 
fortunate Highland emigrants, apparently destitute 
of any means of subsistence, and many of them 
sick from want and other attendant causes. It was piti- 
ful the other day to view a funeral of one of these 
wretched people. It was, indeed, a sad procession. 
The coffin was constructed of the rudest material ; a few 
rough boards nailed together was all that could be 
afforded to convey to its last resting-place the body of the 
homeless emigrant. Children followed in the mournful 
train ; perchance they followed a brother's bier, one with 
whom they had sported and played for many a healthful 
day among their native glens. Theirs were looks of 
indescribable sorrow. They were in rags * their mourn- 
ing weeds were the shapeless fragments of what had once 
been clothes. There was a mother, too, among the 
mourners, one who had tended the departed with anxious 
care in infancy, and had doubtless looked forward to a 
happier future in this land of plenty. The anguish of 
her countenance told too plainly these hopes were 

* Quebec Times. 


blasted, and she was about to bury them in the grave of 
her child. 

" There will be many to sound the fulsome noise of 
flattery in the ear of the generous landlord, who had spent 
so much to assist the emigration of his poor tenants. 
They will give him the misnomer of a benefactor, and 
for what ? Because he has rid his estates of the encum- 
brance of a pauper population. 

' 'Emigrants of the poorer class who arrive hert from the 
Western Highlands of Scotland are often so situated that 
their emigration is more cruel than banishment. Their 
last shilling is spent probably before they reach the upper 
province they are reduced to the necessity of begging. 
But, again, the case of those emigrants of whom we speak 
is rendered more deplorable from their ignorance of the 
English tongue. Of the hundreds of Highlanders in and 
around Dundas at present, perhaps not half-a-dozen 
understand anything but Gaelic. 

"In looking at these matters, we are impressed with the 
conviction that, so far from emigration being a panacea 
for Highland destitution, it is fraught with disasters of no 
ordinary magnitude to the emigrant whose previous 
habits, under the most favourable circumstances, render 
him unable to take advantage of the industry of Canada, 
even when brought hither free of expense. We may assist 
these poor creatures for a time, but charity will scarcely 
bide the hungry cravings of so many for a very long 
period. Winter is approaching, and then but we leave 
this painful subject for the present.*" 


This island, at one time, had a large population, all of 
whom were weeded out in the usual way. The Rev. 
Donald Maclean, Minister of the Parish of Small Isles, 
informs us in The New Statistical Account, that " in 1826 
all the inhabitants of the Island of Rum, amounting at 
least to 400 souls, found it necessary to leave their native 

* Dundas Warder, 2nd October, 1851. 


land, and to seek for new abodes in the distant wilds of 
our colonies in America. Of all the old residenters, only 
one family remained upon the Island. The old and the 
young, the feeble and the strong, were all united in this 
general emigration the former to find tombs in a foreign 
land the latter to encounter toils, privations, and dan- 
gers, to become familiar with customs, and to acquire 
that to which they had been entire strangers. A similar 
emigration took place in 1828, from the Island of Muck, 
so that the parish has now become much depopulated." 

In 1831 the population of the whole parish was 1015, 
while before that date it was much larger. In 1851 it 
was 916. In 1881 it was reduced to 550. The total 
population of Rum in 1881 was 89 souls. 

Hugh Miller, who visited the Island, describes it and 
the evictions thus : 

" The evening was clear, calm, golden-tinted ; 
even wild heaths and rude rocks had assumed 
a flush of transient beauty ; and the emerald-green 
patches on the hill-sides, barred by the plough 
lengthwise, diagonally, and transverse, had bor- 
rowed an aspect of soft and velvety richness, from the 
mellowed light and the broadening shadows. All was 
solitary. We could see among the deserted fields the 
grass-grown foundations of cottages razed to the ground ; 
but the valley, more desolate than that which we had left, 
had not even its single inhabited dwelling ; it seemed as 
if man had done with it for ever. The island, eighteen 
years before, had been divested of its inhabitants, 
amounting at the time to rather more than four hundred 
souls, to make way for one sheep farmer and eight 
thousand sheep. All the aborigines of Rum crossed the 
Atlantic ; and, at the close of 1828, the entire population 
consisted of but the sheep farmer, and a few shepherds, 
his servants : the Island of Rum reckoned up scarce a 
single family at this period for every five square miles of 
area which it contained. But depopulation on so ex- 
treme a scale was found inconvenient ; the place had been 
rendered too thoroughly a desert for the comfort of the 
occupant ; and on the occasion of a clearing which took 


place shortly after in Skye, he accommodated some ten 
or twelve of the ejected families with sites for cottages, 
and pasturage for a few cows, on the bit of morass beside 
Loch Scresort, on which I had seen their humble dwell- 
ings. But the whole of the once-peopled interior remains 
a wilderness, without inhabitants, all the more lonely 
in its aspect from the circumstance that the solitary 
valleys, with their plough-furrowed patches, and their 
ruined heaps of stone, open upon shores every whit as 
solitary as themselves, and that the wide untrodden 
sea stretches drearily around. 

" The armies of the insect world were sporting 
in the light this evening by the million ; a 
brown stream that runs through the valley yielded 
an incessant poppling sound, from the myriads 
of fish that were ceaselessly leaping in the pools, beguiled 
by the quick glancing wings of green and gold that 
fluttered over them ; along a distant hillside there ran 
what seemed the ruins of a grey-stone fence, erected, says 
tradition, in a remote age to facilitate the hunting of the 
deer ; there were fields on which the heath and moss of 
the surrounding moorlands were fast encroaching, that 
had borne many a successive harvest ; and prostrate 
cottages, that had been the scenes of christenings, and 
bridals, and blythe new-year's days ; all seemed to 
bespeak the place of fitting habitation for man, in which 
not only the necessaries, but also a few of the luxuries of 
life, might be procured ; but in the entire prospect not a 
man nor a man's dwelling could the eye command. The 
landscape was one without figures. 

"I do not much like extermination carried 
out so thoroughly and on system ; it seems bad 
policy ; and I have not succeeded in thinking any 
the better of it though assured by the economists 
that there are more than enough people in 
Scotland still. There are, I believe, more than enough in 
our workhouses more than enough on our pauper rolls 
more than enough muddled up, disreputable, useless, and 
unhappy, in their miasmatic valleys and typhoid courts of 
our large towns ; but I have yet to learn how arguments 


for local depopulation are to be drawn from facts such as 
these. A brave and hardy people, favourably placed for 
the development of all that is excellent in human nature, 
form the glory and strength of a country ; a people sunk 
into an abyss of degradation and misery, and in which it 
is the whole tendency of external circumstances to sink 
them yet deeper, constitute its weakness and its shame \ 
and I cannot quite see on what principle the ominous 
increase which is taking place among us in the worse class, 
is to form our solace or apology for the wholesale expatri- 
ation of the better. 

" It did not seem as if the depopulation of Rum had 
tended much to anyone's advantage. The single 
sheep farmer who had occupied the holdings of so 
many had been unfortunate in his speculations, and 
had left the island ; the proprietor, his landlord, seemed 
to have been as little fortunate as the tenant, for the 
island itself was in the market, and a report went current 
at the time that it was on the eve of being purchased by 
some wealthy Englishman, who purposed converting it 
into a deer forest. 

" How strange a cycle ! Uninhabited originally, save 
by wild animals, it became at an early period a 
home of men, who, as the gray wall on the hillside 
testified, derived in part at least, their sustenance from 
the chase. They broke in from the waste the furrowed 
patches on the slopes of the valleys, they reared herds of 
cattle and flocks of sheep, their number increased to 
nearly five hundred souls, they enjoyed the average 
happiness of human creatures in the present imperfect 
state of being, they contributed their portion of hardy 
and vigorous manhood to the armies of the country, and 
a few of their more adventurous spirits, impatient of the 
narrow bounds which confined them, and a coursr of life 
little varied by incident, emigrated to America. Then 
came the change of system so general in the Highlands ; 
and the island lost all its original inhabitants, on a wool 
and mutton speculation, inhabitants, the descendants 
of men who had chased the deer on its hills five hundred 
years before, and who, though they recognized some 



wild island lord as their superior, and did him service, 
had regarded the place as indisputably their own. And 
now yet another change was on the eve of ensuing, and 
the island was to return to its original state, as a home of 
wild animals, where a few hunters from the mainland 
might enjoy the chase for a month or two every twelve- 
month, but which could form no permanent place of 
human abode. Once more a strange, and surely most 
melancholy cycle ! "* 

In another place the same writer asks, 

" Where was the one tenant of the island, for whose 
sake so many others had been removed ? " and he 
answers, " We found his house occupied by a humble 
shepherd, who had in charge the wreck of his property, 
property no longer his, but held for the benefit of his 
creditors. The great sheep farmer had gone down 
under circumstances of very general bearing, and on 
whose after development, when in their latent state, 
improving landlords had failed to calculate." 

HARRIS and the other Western Islands suffered in a 
similar manner. Mull, Tiree, and others in Argyllshire 
are noticed in dealing with that county. 



In many parts of Argyllshire the people have been 
weeded out none the less effectively, that the process 
generally was of a milder nature than that adopted in 
some of the places already described. By some means or 
other, however, the ancient tenantry have largely dis- 
appeared to make room for the sheep farmer and the 
sportsman. Mr. Somerville, Lochgilphead, writing on 
this subject, says, " The watchword of all is exterminate, 
exterminate the native race. Through this monomania of 
landlords the cottier population is all but extinct ; and 

* leading articles from the Witness. 


the substantial yeoman is undergoing the same process of 
dissolution." He then proceeds : 
- " About nine miles of country on the west side of 
Loch Awe, in Argyllshire, that formerly maintained 45 
families, are now rented by one person as a sheep 
farm } and in the island of Luing, same county, 
which formerly contained about 50 substantial 
farmers, besides cottiers, this number is now reduced 
to about six. The work of eviction commenced 
by giving, in many cases, to the ejected population, 
facilities and pecuniary aid for emigration ' but now the 
people are turned adrift, penniless and shelterless, to 
seek a precarious subsistence on the sea-board, in the 
nearest hamlet or village, and in the cities, many of whom 
sink down helpless paupers on our poor-roll \ and others, 
festering in our villages, form a formidable Arab popu- 
lation, who drink our money contributed as parochial 
relief. This wholesale depopulation is perpetrated, too, 
in a spirit of invidiousness, harshness, cruelty, and in- 
justice, and must eventuate in permanent injury to the 
moral, political, and social interests of the kingdom. . . 
The immediate effects of this new system are the dis- 
sociation of the people from the land, who are virtually 

denied the right to labour on God's creation. In L , 

for instance, garden ground and small allotments of land 
are in great demand by families, and especially by the 
aged, whose labouring days are done, for the purpose of 
keeping cows, and by which they might be able to earn 
an honest, independent maintenence for their families, 
and whereby their children might be brought up to labour 
instead of growing up vagabonds and thieves. But 
such, even in our centres of population, cannot be got ; 
the whole is let in large farms and turned into grazing. 
The few patches of bare pasture, formed by the delta of 
rivers, the detritus of rocks, and tidal deposits, are let for 
grazing at the exorbitant rent of 3 10s. each for a small 
Highland cow ; and the small space to be had for garden 
ground is equally extravagant. The consequence of these 
exorbitant rents and the want of agricultural facilities is a 
depressed, degraded, and pauperised population." 


These remarks are only too true, and applicable 
not only in Argyllshire, but throughout the Highlands 

A deputation from the Glasgow Highland Relief Board, 
consisting of Dr. Robert Macgregor, and Mr. Charles R. 
Baird, their Secretary, visited Mull, Ulva, lona, Tiree, 
Coll, and part of Morvern, in 1849, and they immediately 
afterwards issued a printed report on the state of these 
places, from which a few extracts will prove instructive. 
They inform us that the population of 


according to the Government Census of 1821, was 10,612 ; 
in 1841, 10,064. I n I 87 I > we find it reduced to 6441, 
and by the Census of 1881, now before us, it is stated at 
5624, or a fraction more than half the number that in- 
habited the Island in 1821. 

TOBERMORY, we are told, " has been for some time the 
resort of the greater part of the small crofters and cottars, 
ejected from their holdings and houses on the surrounding 
estates, and thus there has been a great accumulation of 
distress." Then we are told that " severe as the 
destitution has been in the rural districts, we think it has 
been still more so in Tobermory and other villages " a 
telling comment on, and reply to, those who would now 
have us believe that the evictors of those days and of our 
own were acting the character of wise benefactors when 
they ejected the people from the inland and rural districts 
of the various counties to wretched villages, and rocky 
hamlets on the sea-shore. 

ULVA. The population of the Island of Ulva in 
1849 was 360 souls The reporters state that a " large 
portion " of it " has lately been converted into a sheep 
farm, and consequently a number of small crofters and 
cottars have been warned away " by Mr. Clark. " Some 
of these will find great difficulty in settling themselves 
anywhere, and all of them have little prospect of employ- 
ment Whatever may be the ultimate effect 

to the landowners of the conversion of a number of small 


crofts into large farms, we need scarcely say that this 
process is causing much poverty and misery among the 
crofters." How Mr. Clark carried out his intention of 
evicting the tenantry of Ulva may be seen from the fact 
that the population of 360 souls, in 1849, was reduced to 
51 in 1881. 

KILFINICHEN. In this district we are told that " The 
crofters and cottars having been warned off, 26 
individuals emigrated to America, at their own expense 
and one at that of the Parochial Board j a good many 
removed to Kinloch, where they are now in great poverty, 
and those who remained were not allowed to cultivate 
any ground for crop or even garden stuffs. The stock 
and other effects of a number of crofters on Kinloch 
last year (1848), whose rents averaged from 5 to 
15 per annum, having been sequestrated and sold, these 
parties are now reduced to a state of pauperism, having 
no employment or means of subsistence whatever." As 
to the cottars, it is said that " the great mass of them are 
now in a very deplorable state." On the estate of 

GRIBUN, Colonel Macdonald of Inchkenneth, the pro- 
prietor, gave the people plenty of work, by which they 
were quite independent of relief from any quarter, and 
the character which he gives to the deputation of the 
people generally is most refreshing, when we compare it 
with the baseless charges usually made against them by 
the majority of his class. The reporters state that 
" Colonel Macdonald spoke in high terms of the honesty 
of the people and of their great patience and forbearance 
under their severe privations." It is gratifying to be able 
to record this simple act of justice, not only as the people's 
due, but specially to the credit of Colonel Macdonald's 
memory and goodness of heart. 

BUNESSAN. Respecting this district, belonging to the 
Duke of Argyll, our authority says : " It will be re- 
collected that the [Relief] Committee, some time ago, 
advanced 128 to assist in procuring provisions for a 
number of emigrants from the Duke of Argyll's estate, 
in the Ross of Mull and lona, in all 243 persons 125 
adults and 118 children. When there, we made inquiry 


into the matter, and were informed [by those, as it proved, 
quite ignorant of the facts] that the emigration had been 
productive of much good, as the parties who emigrated 
could not find the means of subsistence in this country, 
and had every prospect of doing so in Canada, where all of 
them had relations ; and also because the land occupied 
by some of these emigrants had been given to increase 
the crofts of others. Since our return home, however, 
we have received the very melancholy and distressing 
intelligence, that many of these emigrants had been seized 
with cholera on their arrival in Canada ; that not a few 
of them had fallen victims to it ; and that the survivors 
had suffered great privations." Compare the " prospect," 
of much good, predicted for these poor creatures, with 
the sad reality of having been forced away to die a 
terrible death immediately on their arrival on a foreign 
shore ! 

IONA, at this time, contained a population of 500, 
reduced in 1881 to 243. It also is the property of the 
Duke of Argyll, as well as 

THE ISLAND OF TIREE, the population of which is 
given in the report as follows : In 1755, it was 1509, 
increasing in 1777, to 1681 ; in 1801, to 2416 ; in 1821, to 
4181 ; and in 1841 to 4687. In 1849, " after considerable 
emigrations," it was 3903 ; while in 1881, it was reduced to 
2733. The deputation recommended emigration from 
Tiree as imperatively necessary, but they " call especial 
attention to the necessity of emigration being conducted 
on proper principles, or, ' on a system calculated to pro- 
mote the permanent benefit of those who emigrate, and of 
those who remain,' because we have reason to fear that 
not a few parties in these districts are anxious to get rid of 
the small crofters and cottars at all hazard, and without 
making sufficient provision for their future comfort and 
settlement elsewhere ; and because we have seen the very 
distressing account of the privations and sufferings of the 
poor people who emigrated from Tiree and the Ross of 
Mull to Canada this year (1849), an d would spare no pains 
to prevent a recurrence of such deplorable circumstances. 
As we were informed that the Duke of Argyll had ex- 


pended nearly 1200 on account of the emigrants (in all 
247 souls) from Tiree ; as the Committee advanced 
131 153. to purchase provisions for them ; and as funds 
were remitted to Montreal to carry them up the country, 
we sincerely trust that the account we have seen of their 
sufferings in Canada is somewhat over-charged, and that 
it is not at all events to be ascribed to want of due pro- 
vision being made for them, ere they left this country, to 
carry them to their destination. Be this as it may, 
however, we trust that no emigration will in future be 
promoted by proprietors or others, which will not secure, 
as far as human effort can, the benefit of those who emigrate, 
as well as of those who are left at home. . . . Being 
aware of the poverty of the great majority of the in- 
habitants of this island, and of the many difficulties with 
which they have to contend, we were agreeably surprised 
to find their dwellings remarkably neat and clc an very 
superior indeed, both externally and internally, to those 
of the other islands ; nay, more, such as would bear 
comparison with cottages in any part of the kingdom. 
The inhabitants, too, we believe, are active and enter- 
prising, and, if once put in a fair way of doing so, would 
soon raise themselves to comfort and independence." 
Very good, indeed, Tiree ! 

THE ISLAND OF COLL, which is separated from Tiree by 
a channel only two miles in width, had a population, in 
1755, of 1193 ; in 1771, of 1200 ; in 1801, of 1162 ; in 
1821, of 1264. In 1841 it reached 1409. At the time 
of the visit of the deputation, from whose report we quote, 
the population of the Island was down to 1235 ; while in 
1 88 1 it had fallen to 643. The deputation report that 
during the destitution the work done by the Coll people 
" approximates, if it does exceed, the supplies given ; " 
they are " hard working and industrious. . . We saw 
considerable tracts of ground which we were assured 
might be reclaimed and cultivated with profit, and are 
satisfied that fishing is a resource capable of great im- 
provement, and at which, therefore, many of the people 
might be employed to advantage ; we are disposed to 
think that, by a little attention and prudent outlay of 


capital, the condition of the people here might ere long 
be greatly improved. The grand difficulty in the way, 
however, is the want of capital. Mr. Maclean, the prin- 
cipal proprietor, always acted most liberally when he had 
it in his power to do so, but, unfortunately, he has no 
longer the ability, and the other two proprietors are also 
under trust." Notwithstanding these possibilities the 
population is undergoing a constant process of 

We shall now return to the mainland portion of the 
County, and take a glance at the parish of 


" Uaine gu'm mullach " (green to their tops !). So Dr. 
Norman Macleod described the bens of Ardnamurchan 
in his inimitable sketch, the " Emigrant Ship," and so 
they appear even to this day. Their beautiful slopes show 
scarcely a vestige of heather, but an abundance of rich, 
sweet grass of a quality eminently suitable for pasturage. 

As the steamboat passenger sails northward through 
the Sound of Mull, he sees straight ahead, and stretching 
at right angles across his course, a long range of low 
hills culminating in a finely-shaped mass which seems to 
rise abruptly from the edge of the sea. The hills are those 
of Ardnamurchan, and the dominating pile is Ben Hiant, 
1729 feet in height, and " green to its top." Around the 
base of the mountain and for miles in every direction the 
land is fair, fertile, and well adapted either for arable 
or grazing purposes. It comprises the farm of Mingary, 
and, to-day, is wholly under deer. 

Down to the second decade of last century it supported 
about twenty-six families, which were distributed over 
the component townships of Coire-mhuilinn, Skinid, 
Buarblaig, and Tornamona. At one sweep, the whole 
place was cleared, and the grounds added to the adjacent 

""Compiled partly from evidence submitted to Deer Forest Com- 
mission of 1892 (see Minute of Evidence, vol. ii., pp. 884-5 
and pp. 912-3), and partly from notes of conversations which 
the Editor has had with actual witnesses of the incidents 


sheep farm of Mingary. The evictions were carried out 
in 1828, the process being attended with many acts of 
heartless cruelty on the part of the laird's representatives. 
In one case a half-witted woman who flatly refused to 
flit, was locked up in her cottage, the door being barri- 
caded on the outside by mason- work. She was visited 
every morning to see if she had arrived at a tractable 
frame of mind, but for days she held out. It was not 
until her slender store of food was exhausted that she 
ceased to argue with the inevitable and decided to capi- 
tulate. It is to cases of this character that Dr. John 
MacLachlan, the Sweet Singer of Rahoy, referred in 
the lines 

" An dall, an seann duine san oinid 
Toirt am mallachd air do bhuaireas." 

(The blind, the aged, and the imbecile calling curses on 
thy greed.) The proprietor at whose instance these 
" removals " were carried out was Sir James Milles 
Riddell, Bart. Of the dislodged families a few were given 
small patches of waste land, some were given holdings in 
various townships on the estate the crofts of which were 
sub- divided for their accommodation and some were 
forced to seek sanctuary beyond the Atlantic. 

Additional clearances were effected on the Ardna- 
murchan estate in 1853, when Swordle-chaol, Swordle- 
mhor, and Swordle-chorrach, with an aggregate area of 
about 3000 acres, were divested of their crofting popula- 
tion, and thrown into a single sheep farm. Swordle- 
chaol was occupied by four tenants, Swordle-mhor by 
six, and Swordle-chorrach by six. Five years previous 
to the evictions, all the crofters came under a written 
obligation to the proprietor to build new dwelling- 
houses. The walls were to be of stone and lime, 40 ft. 
long, 174 ft. wide, and 7^ ft. high. The houses, two- 
gabled, were to have each two rooms and a kitchen, with 
wooden ceiling and floors, the kitchen alone to be floored 
with flags. By the end of 1851 all the tenants had 
faithfully implemented their promise, and the work of 
building was quite completed. Tradesmen had been 
employed in every case, and the cost averaged from 45 


to 50. When the people were ejected, two years later, 
they received no compensation whatever for their 
labours and outlays. They were not even permitted to 
remove a door, a window, or a fixed cupboard. Some of 
the houses are still intact in this year of grace, 1914, one 
being occupied by a shepherd on Swordle farm, and an- 
other used as a byre. They compare favourably as re- 
gards size, design, and workmanship with the best and 
most modern crofter houses in the Ardnamurchan dis- 
trict. The Swordle tenants were among the best-to-do 
on the estate, and not one of them owed the proprietor 
a shilling in the way of arrears of rent. When cast adrift, 
the majority of them were assigned " holdings " of one 
acre or so in the rough lands of Sanna and Portuairk, 
where they had to start to reclaim peatbogs and to build 
for themselves houses and steadings. Sir James Milles 
Riddell was the proprietor responsible for clearing the 
Swordles as well as the Ben Hiant townships.* 

Other places which he divested of people and placed 
under sheep were Laga, held by eight tenants, and Tar- 
bert, which was in the hands of four. 

About sixteen years ago Ben Hiant, or Mingary, as 
veil as the Swordles, Laga, Tarbert, and other farms, 
was swept clean of sheep and converted into a deer forest, 
the preserve having a total area of 22,000 acres. The 
woolly ruminants met with a retribution, direful and 
complete, and the native people viewed the change with 
mild amusement. Sheep had been the means of ruining 
their forefathers, whereas deer had never done them or 
their kinsfolk the smallest injury. 

The highest hill on the estate of Ardnamurchan is 
Ben Hiant, the altitude of which is 1729 feet. It may 
be described as an isolated peak. It forms no part of 
any definite mountain range, although, when viewed 
from the sea, it seems to blend with Ben an Leathaid 
and other local eminences. For the most part, the 
elevation of the area embraced in the Ardnamurchan 
deer forest varies from 600 feet or 700 feet to sea-level. 

* See Note C in Appendices. 



The population of this extensive parish in 1755 was 
1223 ; in 1795 it increased to 1764 ; in 1801 to 2000 ; in 
1821, it was 1995 ; in 1831, it rose to 2137 ; and ui 1841 
it came down to 1781 ; in 1871, it was only 973 ; while 
in the Census Returns for 1881 we find it stated at 714, 
or less than one-third of what it was fifty years before. 

The late Dr. Norman Macleod, after describing the 
happy state of things which existed in this parish before 
the clearances, says : 

" But all this was changed when those tacksmen 
were swept away to make room for the large 
sheep farms, and when the remnants of the people 
flocked from their empty glens to occupy houses in 
wretched villages near the sea-shore, by way of becoming 
fishers often where no fish could be caught. The result 
has been that ' the Parish/ for example, which once had a 
population of 2200 souls, and received only 11 per 
annum from public (Church) funds for the support of the 
poor, expends now [1863] under the poor law upwards of 
600 annually, with a population diminished by one-half 
[since diminished to one-third] and with poverty increased 

in a greater ratio Below these gentlemen 

tacksmen were those who paid a much lower rent, and 
who lived very comfortably, and shared hospitality with 
others, the gifts which God gave them. I remember a 
group of men, tenants in a large glen, which now has not 
a smoke in it, as the Highlanders say, throughout its 
length of twenty miles. They had the custom of enter- 
taining in rotation every traveller who cast himself on 
their hospitality. The host on the occasion was bound 
to summon his neighbours to the homely feast. It was 
my good fortune to be a guest when they received the 
present minister of ' the Parish/ while en route to visit 
some of his flock. We had a most sumptuous feast 
oat-cakes, crisp and fresh from the fire ; cream, rich and 
thick, and more beautiful than nectar, whatever 
that may be ; blue Highland cheese, finer than Stilton ; 


fat hens, slowly cooked on the fire in a pot of potatoes, 
without their skins, and with fresh butter ' stored 
hens,' as the superb dish was called ; and though last, 
not least, tender kid, roasted as nicely as Charles Lamb's 
cracklin' pig. All was served up with the utmost pro- 
priety, on a table covered with a fine white cloth, and with 
all the requisites for a comfortable dinner, including the 
champagne of elastic, buoyant, and exciting mountain 
air. The manners and conversations of those men would 
have pleased the best-bred gentleman. Everything was 
so simple, modest, unassuming, unaffected, yet so frank 
and cordial. The conversation was such as might be 
heard at the table of any intelligent man. Alas ! there 
is not a vestige remaining of their homes. I know not 
whither they are gone, but they have left no representa- 
tives behind. The land in the glen is divided between 
sheep, shepherds, and the shadows of the clouds." * 

The Rev. Donald Macleod, editor of Good Words 
describing the death of the late Dr. John Macleod, the 
"minister of the Parish" referred to by Dr. Norman 
in the above quotation, and for fifty years minister of 
Morven says of the noble patriarch : 

"His later years were spent in pathetic loneliness. 
He had seen his parish almost emptied of its 
people. Glen after glen had been turned into 
sheep-walks, and the cottages in which generations 
of gallant Highlanders had lived and died were 
unroofed, their torn walls and gables left standing 
like mourners beside the grave, and the little plots of 
garden or of cultivated enclosure allowed to merge into 
the moorland pasture. He had seen every property in 
the parish change hands, and though, on the whole, 
kindly and pleasant proprietors came in place of the old 
families, yet they were strangers to the people, neither 
understanding their language nor their ways. The con- 
sequence was that they perhaps scarcely realised the 
havoc produced by the changes they inaugurated. ' At 
one stroke of the pen,' he said to me, with a look of sad 

* Reminiscences j>f a Highland Parish. 


ness and indignation, ' two hundred of the people were 
ordered off . There was not one of these whom I did not 
know, and their fathers before them ; and finer men and 
women never left the Highlands.' He thus found him- 
self the sole remaining link between the past and present 
the one man above the rank of a peasant who remem- 
bered the old days and the traditions of the people. The 
sense of change was intensely saddened as he went 
through his parish and passed ruined houses here, there, 
and everywhere. ' There is not a smoke there now,' he 
used to say with pathos, of the glens which he had known 
tenanted by a manly and loyal peasantry, among whom 
lived song and story and the elevating influences of 
brave traditions. All are gone, and the place that once 
knew them, knows them no more ! The hill-side, which 
had once borne a happy people and echoed the voices of 
joyous children is now a silent sheep walk. The sup- 
posed necessities of Political Economy have effected the 
exchange, but the day may come when the country ma}^ 
feel the loss of the loyal and brave race which has been 
driven away, and find a new meaning perhaps in the old 
question, ' Is not a man better than a sheep ? ' They 
who ' would have shed their blood like water ' for Queen 
and country, are in other lands, Highland still, but 
expatriated for ever. 

From the dim shieling on the misty island, 

Mountains divide us and a world of seas, 
But still our hearts are true, our hearts are Highland, 

And in oui dreams we behold the Hebrides. 
Tall are these mountains, and these woods are grand, 
But we are exiled from our father's land." * 


Glenorchy, of which the Marquis of Breadalbane is 
sole proprietor, was, like many other places, ruthlessly 
cleared of its whole native population. The writer of the 
New Statistical Account of the Parish, in 1843, the Rev. 

* Farewell to Fiunary, by Donald Macleod, D.D., in Good Words 
for August, 1882. 


Duncan Maclean, " Fior Ghael " of the Teachdaire, 
informs us that the census taken by Dr. Webster in 1755, 
and by Dr. Maclntyre forty years later, in 1795, " differ 
exceedingly little," only to the number of sixty. The 
Marquis of the day, it is well known, was a good friend 
of his reverence ; the feeling was naturally reciprocated, 
and one of the apparent results is that the reverend 
author abstained from giving, in his Account of the 
Parish, the population statistics of the Glenorchy dis- 
trict. It was, however, impossible to pass over that im- 
portant portion of his duty altogether, and, apparently 
with reluctance, he makes the following sad admission : 
" A great and rapid decrease has, however, taken place 
since [referring to the population in 1795]. This de- 
crease is mainly attributable to the introduction of sheep, 
and the absorption of small into large tenements. The 
aboriginal population of the parish of Glenorchy (not 
of Inishail) has been nearly supplanted by adventurers 
from the neighbouring district of Breadalbane, who now 
occupy the far largest share of the parish. There are a 
few, and only a few, shoots from the stems that supplied 
the ancient population. Some clans, who were rather 
numerous and powerful, have disappeared altogether ; 
others, viz., the Downies, Macnabs, Macnicols, and 
Fletchers, have nearly ceased to exist. The Macgregors, 
at one time lords of the soil, have totally disappeared ; 
not one of the name is to be found among the population. 
The Macintyres, at once time extremely numerous, are 
likewise greatly reduced." 

By this nobleman's mania for evictions, the population 
of Glenorchy was reduced from 1806 in 1831 to 831 in 
1841, or by nearly a thousand souls in the short space 
of ten years ! It is, however, gratifying to find that it 
has since, under wiser management, very largely in- 

In spite of all this we have been seriously told that there 
has been no 


in the rural districts. In this connection some very 


extraordinary public utterances were recently made by 
two gentlemen closely connected with the county of 
Argyll, questioning or attempting to explain away state- 
ments, made in the House of Commons by Mr. D. H. 
Macfarlane, M.P., to the effect that the rural population 
was, from various causes, fast disappearing from the 
Highlands. These utterances were one by a no less 
distinguished person that the Duke of Argyll, who 
published his remarkable propositions in the Times ; 
the other by Mr. John Ramsay, M.P., the Islay distiller, 
who imposed his baseless statement on his brother mem- 
bers in the House of Commons. These oracles should 
have known better. They must clearly have taken no 
trouble whatever to ascertain the facts for themselves, or, 
having ascertained them, kept them back that the public 
might be misled on a question with which, it is obvious to 
all, the personal interests of both are largely mixed up. 

Let us see how the assertions of these authorities agreed 
with the actual facts. In 1831 the population of the 
county of Argyll was 100,973 ; in 1841 it was 97,371 ; in 
1851 it was reduced to 88,567 ; and in 1881 it was down 
to 76,468. Of the latter number the Registrar-General 
classifies 30,387 as urban, or the population of " towns 
and villages," leaving us only 46,081 as the total rural 
population of the county of Argyll at the date of the last 
Census, in 1881. In 1911 the total population for the 
county had dropped to 70,902. 

It will be necessary to keep in mind that in 1831 the 
county could not be said to have had many " town and 
village " inhabitants not more than from 12,000 to 
15,000 at most. These resided chiefly in Campbeltown, 
Inveraray, and Oban ; and if we deduct from the total 
population for that year, numbering 100,973, even the 
larger estimate, 15,000 of an urban or town population, 
we have still left, in 1831, an actual rural population of 
85,973, or within a fraction of double the whole rural 
population of the county in 1881. In other words, the 
rural population of Argyllshire was reduced in fifty years 
from 85,973 to 46,081, or nearly by one-half. 

The increase of the urban or town population is going 


on at a fairly rapid rate ; Campbeltown, Dunoon, Oban, 
Ballachulish, Blairmore, and Strone, Innellan, Lochgilp- 
head, Tarbet, and Tighnabruaich, combined, having 
added no less than some 5500 to the population of the 
county in the ten years from 1871 to 1881. These popu- 
lous places will be found respectively in the parishes of 
Campbeltown, Lismore, and Appin, Dunoon and Kil- 
mun, Glassary, Kilcalmonell and Kilbery, and in Kil- 
finan ] and this will at once account for the comparatively 
good figure which these parishes make in the tabulated 
statement in the Appendix. That table will show exactly 
in which parishes and at what rate depopulation pro- 
gressed during the last fifty years. In many instances 
the population was larger prior to 1831 than at that date, 
but the years given will generally give the best idea of how 
the matter stood throughout that whole period. The 
state of the population given in 1831 was before the 
famine which occurred in 1836 ; while that in 1841 comes 
in between that of 1836 and 1846-47, during which period 
large numbers were sent away, or left for the Colonies. 
There was no famine between 1851 and 1881, a time 
during which the population was reduced from 88,567 
to 76,468, notwithstanding the great increase which took 
place simultaneously in the " town and village " section 
of the people in the county, as well as throughout the 
country generally. 




Once upon a time and the time was 1828 Alexander, 
tenth Duke of Hamilton, decided that he would make 
large farms on his estate, and, of course, the will and wish 

* Megantic, by Dugald ATackeiizie Mackillop. 


of a duke in his own domains must be respected, even 
though as in one instance the land rented by twenty- 
seven families was converted into one farm. 

For various reasons, the islanders had for many years 
been discontented, and there seemed no hope of a change 
for the better. If a man worked his place in a progressive 
way and made improvements on the farm, the benefit 
accrued solely to the landed proprietor, who thanked the 
good tenant by promptly raising his rent. If the farmer 
objected to paying more rent, his only alternative was to 
submit to be turned off his holding at the expiration of 
his lease ; then the landlord would collect the increased 
rent from the new tenant. 

So when the duke made overtures to a large number of 
his tenants to the effect that if they would make room for 
him by getting away from their ancestral moorings in 
Arran, he would see that they were well provided for in 
the new world, it is not to be wondered at that they 
accepted his proposition. It is so nice when you are cast 
out to be told where you can go, and be directed what to 
do. The Duke promised to secure for each family a grant 
of 100 acres of land in Canada, and the same amount of 
land for each son in each family who at that time had 
reached the age of 21. 

Arrived at their destination at Johnston Ford, province 
of Quebec, each family constructed a tent by stretching 
blankets, quilts, etc., over poles suitably disposed and 
tied together at the top with withes and ropes. Fortun- 
ately the season was favourable and fires were needed 
only for cooking. As just stated, the Duke of Hamilton 
had promised that each family and each young man who 
had attained his majority should receive a grant of 100 
acres of land \ but, when the colony was actually on the 
scene, the Government officials refused to give a grant 
except to the heads of the families. 

The matter of grants has been so variously stated that 
it is difficult to determine what the conditions were, but it 
appears that the actual agreement of the Duke of Hamil- 
ton was that grants should be given for two years only. 
Those who came out in 1829 and 1830 secured certain 


grants after a delay. Those, however, who did not arrive 
till 1831 were told by the agents that grants were no 
longer to be had. 



Regarding the state of matters in this district a corres- 
pondent writes us as follows : I am very glad to learn 
that you are soon to publish a new edition of your "High- 
land Clearances." You have done good work already in 
rousing the conscience of the public against the conduct 
of certain landlords in the Highlands, who long ere now 
should have been held up to public scorn and execration, 
as the best means of deterring others from pursuing a 
policy which has been so fatal to the best interests of our 
beloved land. . . . And now, if I am not too late, 
I should like to direct your attention to a few authenti- 
cated facts connected with two districts in the Highlands, 
that I am familiar with, and which facts you may utilise, 
though I shall merely give notes. 

In 1851 the population of the district known as the 
quoad sacra parish of Rannoch numbered altogether 
1800 ; at the census of 1881 it was below 900. Even in 
1851 it was not nearly what it was earlier. Why this 
constant decrease ? Several no doubt left the district 
voluntarily ; but the great bulk of those who left were 

Take, first, the Slios Min, north side of Loch Rannoch. 
Fifty years ago the farm of Ardlarich, near the west end, 
was tenanted by three farmers, who were in good circum- 
stances. These were turned out to make room for one 
large farmer, who was rouped out last year, pennilness \ 
and the farm is now tenantless. The next place, further 
east, is the township of Killichoan, containing about 
thirty to forty houses, with small crofts attached to each. 


The crofters here are very comfortable and happy, and 
their houses and crofts are models of what industry, 
thrift and good taste can effect. Further east is the farm 
of Liaran, now tenantless. Fifty years ago it was farmed 
by seven tenants who were turned out to make room for 
one man, and that at a lower rent than was paid by the 
former tenants. Further, in the same direction, there are 
Aulich, Craganour, and Annat, every one of them tenant- 
less. These three farms, lately in the occupation of one 
tenant, and for which he paid a rental of 900, at one time 
maintained fifty to sixty families in comfort, all of whom 
have vanished, or were virtually banished from their 
native land. 

It is only right to say that the present proprietor is not 
responsible for the eviction of any of the smaller tenants; 
the deed was done before he came into possession. On 
the contrary, he is very kind to his crofter tenantry, but 
unfortunately for him he inherits the fruits of a bad policy 
which has been the ruin of the Rannoch estates. 

Then take the Slios Garbh, south-side of Loch Rannoch. 
Beginning in the west-end, we have Georgetown, which, 
about fifty years ago, contained twenty-five or twenty-six 
houses, every one of which were knocked down by the 
late laird of Struan, and the people evicted. The crofters 
of Finnart were ejected in the same way. Next comes 
the township of Camghouran, a place pretty similar to 
Killichoan, but smaller. The people are very industrious, 
cleanly, and fairly comfortable, reflecting much credit 
upon themselves and the present proprietor. Next 
comes Dall, where there used to be a number of tenants, 
but now in the hands of the proprietor, an Englishman. 
The estate of Innerhaden comes next. It used to be 
divided into ten lots two held by the laird, and eight 
by as many tenants. The whole is now in the hands of 
one family. The rest of Bun- Rannoch includes the es- 
tates of Dalchosnie, Lassintullich, and Crossmount, 
where there used to be a large number of small tenants 
most of them well-to-do but now held by five. 

Lastly, take the north side of the river Dubhag, which 
flows out from Loch Rannoch, and is erroneously called 


the Tummel. Kinloch, Druimchurn, and Druimchaisteil, 
always in the hands of three tenants, are now held by one. 
Drumaglass contains a number of small holdings, with 
good houses on many of them. Balmore, which always 
had six tenants in it, has now only one, the remaining 
portion of it being laid out in grass parks. Ballintuim, 
with a good house upon it, is tenantless. Auchitarsin, 
where there used to be twenty houses, is now reduced to 
four. The whole district from, and including, Kinloch 
to Auchitarsin belongs to General Sir Alastair Macdonald 
of Dalchosnie, Commander of Her Majesty's Forces in 
Scotland. His father, Sir John, during his life, took a 
great delight in having a numerous, thriving, and sturdy 
tenantry on the estates of Dalchosnie, Kinloch, Loch- 
garry, Dunalastair, and Morlaggan. On one occasion 
his tenant of Dalchosnie offered to take from Sir John 
on lease all the land on the north side of the river. " Ay, 
man," said he, " you would take all that land, would you, 
and turn out all my people ! Who would I get, if my 
house took fire, to put it out ? " 

The present proprietor has virtually turned out the 
great bulk of those that Sir John had loved so well. 
Though, it is said, he did not evict any man directly, he 
is alleged to have made their positions so hot for them that 
they had to leave. Sir John could have raised hundreds 
of Volunteers on his estates men who would have died 
for the gallant old soldier. But how many could be now 
raised by his son ? Not a dozen men ; though he goes 
about inspecting Volunteers and praising the movement 
officially throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. 

The author of the New Statistical Account, writing of the 
Parish of Fortingall, of which the district referred to by 
our correspondent forms a part, says : " At present 
[1838] no part of the parish is more populous than it was 
in 1790 ; whereas in several districts, the population has 
since decreased one-half ] and the same will be found to 
have taken place, though not perhaps in so great a pro- 
portion, in most or all of the pastoral districts of the 

According to the census of 1801 the population was 


3875 ; in 1811, 3236 ; in 1821, 3189 ; in 1831, 3067 ; and 
in 1 88 1 it was reduced to 1690. 

Upwards of 120 families, the same writer says, " crossed 
the Atlantic from this parish, since the previous Account 
was drawn up [in 1791], besides many individuals of both 
sexes ; while many others have sought a livelihood in the 
Low Country, especially in the great towns of Edinburgh, 
Glasgow, Dundee, Perth, Crieff, and others. The system 
of uniting several farms together, and letting them to one 
individual, has more than any other circumstance " pro- 
duced this result. 


Mr. R. Alister, author of Barriers to the National 
Prosperity of Scotland, had a controversy with the Marquis 
of Breadalbane in 1853, about the eviction of his tenantry. 
In a letter, dated July of that year, Mr. Alister made a 
charge against his lordship which, for obvious reasons, he 
never attempted to answer, as follows : 

;< Your lordship states that in reality there has been no 
depopulation of the district. This, and other 
parts of your lordship's letter, would certainly 
lead any who know nothing of the facts to suppose 
that there had been no clearings on the Breadalbane 
estates ; whereas it is generally believed that 
your lordship removed, since 1834, no ^ ess than 500 
families ! Some may think this is a small matter ; but 
I do not. I think it is a great calamity for a family to be 
thrown out, destitute of the means of life, without a roof 
over their heads, and cast upon the wide sea of an unfeel- 
ing world. In Glenqueich, near Amulree, some sixty 
families formerly lived, where there are now only four or 
five ; and in America, there is a glen inhabited by its 
ousted tenants, and called Glenqueich still. Yet, for- 
sooth, it is maintained there has been no depopulation 
here ! The desolations here look like the ruins of Irish 
cabins, although the population of Glenqueich were 
always characterised as being remarkably thrifty, econ- 
omical, and wealthy. On the Braes of Taymouth, at 


the back of Drummond Hill, and at Tullochyoule, some 
forty or fifty families formerly resided, where there is not 
one now ! Glenorchy, by the returns of 1831, showed a 
population of 1806 ; in 1841, 831 ; is there no depopu- 
lation there ? Is it true that in Glenetive there were 
sixteen tenants a year or two ago, where there is not a 
single one now ? Is it true, my lord, that you purchased 
an island on the west coast, called LAI ing, where some 
twenty-five families lived at the beginning of this year, 
but who are now cleared off to make room for one tenant, 
for whom an extensive steading is now being erected ? 
If my information be correct, I shall allow the public to 
draw their own conclusions ; but, from every thing that 
I have heard, I believe that your lordship has done more 
to exterminate the Scottish peasantry than any man now 
living ; and perhaps you ought to be ranked next to the 
Marquis of Stafford in the uneviable clearing celebrities. 
If I have over-estimated the clearances at 500 families, 
please to correct me." As we have already said, his lord- 
ship thought it prudent, and by far the best policy, not 
to make the attempt. 

In another letter the same writer says : 
" You must be aware that your late father raised 
2300 men during the last war, and that 1600 of 
that number were from the Breadalbane estates. 
My statement is, that 150 could not now be raised. 
Your lordship has most carefully evaded all allusion 
to this, perhaps the worst charge of the whole. 
From your lordship's silence I am surely justified 
in concluding that you may endeavour to evade 
the question, but you dare not attempt an open contra- 
diction. I have often made inquiries of Highlanders on 
this point, and the number above stated was the highest 
estimate. Many who should know, state to me that 
your lordship would not get fifty followers from the whole 
estates ; and another says : ' Why, he would not get 
half-a-dozen, and not one of them unless they could not 
possibly do otherwise.' This, then, is the position of 
the question : in 1793-4, there was such a numerous, 
hardy, and industrious population on the Breadalbane 


estates, that there could be spared of valorous defenders 
of their country in her hour of danger, 1600 ; highest 
estimate now, 150 ; highest banished, 1450. Per 
contra Game of all sorts increased a hundred-fold." 

In 1831, Glenorchy, of which his lordship of Breadal- 
bane was proprietor, was 1806 ; in 1841 it was reduced to 
831. Those best acquainted with the Breadalbane es- 
tates assert that on the whole property no less than 500 
families, or about 2500 souls, were driven into exile by the 
hard-hearted Marquis of that day. 

It is, however, gratifying to know that the present Lord 
Breadalbane, who is descended from a different and re- 
mote branch of the family, is an excellent landlord, and 
takes an entirely different view of his duties and rela- 
tionship to the tenants on his vast property. 



The late Rev. Dr. Maclachlan, Edinburgh, wrote a 
series of articles in the Witness, during its palmy days 
under the editorship of Hugh Miller. These were after- 
wards published in 1849, under the title of " The De- 
population System of the Highlands," in pamphlet form, 
by Johnston and Hunter. The rev. author visited all 
the places to which he refers. He says : 

"A complete history of Highland clearances would, we 
doubt not, both interest and surprise the British public. 
Men talk of the Sutherland clearings as if they stood 
alone amidst the atrocities of the system ; but those who 
know fully the facts of the case can speak with as much 
truth of the Ross-shire clearings, the Inverness-shire 
clearings, the Perthshire clearings, and, to some extent, 
the Argyllshire clearings. The earliest of these was the 
great clearing on the Glengarry estate, towards, we be- 
lieve, the latter end of the last century. The tradition 
among the Highlanders is (and some Gaelic poems com- 
posed at the time would go to confirm it), that the chief's 


lady had taken umbrage at the clan. Whatever the 
cause might have been, the offence was deep, and could 
only be expiated by the extirpation of the race. Sum- 
monses of ejection were served over the whole property, 
even on families the most closely connected with the 
chief j and if we now seek for the Highlanders of Glen- 
garry, we must search on the banks of the St. Lawrence. 

"To the westward of Glengarry lies the estate of Lochiel 
a name to which the imperishable poetry of Campbell 
has attached much interest. It is the country of the brave 
clan Cameron, to whom, were there nothing to speak of 
but their conduct at Waterloo, Britain owes a debt. 
Many of our readers have passed along Loch Lochy, and 
they have likely had the mansion of Auchnacarry pointed 
out to them, and they have been told of the Dark Mile, 
surpassing, as some say, the Trossachs in romantic 
beauty ] but perhaps they were not aware that beyond 
lies the wide expanse of Loch Arkaig, whose banks have 
been the scene of a most extensive clearing. There was 
a day when three hundred able, active men could have 
been collected from the shores of this extensive inland 
loch j but eviction has long ago rooted them out, and 
nothing is now to be seen but the ruins of their huts, with 
the occasional bothy of a shepherd, while their lands are 
held by one or two farmers from the borders. 

" Crossing to thr south of the great glen, we may 
begin with Glencoe. How much of its romantic 
interest does this glen owe to its desolation ? Let 
us remember, however, that the desolation, in a 
large part of it, is the result of the extrusion of 
the inhabitants. Travel eastward, and the footprints 
of the destroyer cannot be lost sight of. Large tracks 
along the Spean and its tributaries are a wide waste. 
The southern bank of Loch Lochy is almost without 
inhabitants, though the symptoms of former occupancy 
are frequent. 

" When we enter the country of the Frasers, 
the same spectacle presents itself a desolate land. 
With the exception of the miserable village of Fort- 
Augustus the native population is almost extinguished, 


while those who do remain are left as if, by their squalid 
misery, to make darkness the more visible. Across the 
hills, in Stratherrick, the property of Lord Lovat, with 
the exception of a few large sheep farmers, and a very 
few tenants, is one wide waste. To the north of Loch 
Ness, the territory of the Grants, both Glenmoriston and 
the Earl of Seafield, presents a pleasing feature amidst 
the sea of desolation. But beyond this, again, let us 
trace the large rivers of the east coast to their sources. 

" Trace the Beauly through all its upper reaches, and 
how many thousands upon thousands of acres, once 
peopled, are, as respects human beings, a wide wilderness ! 
The lands of the Chisholm have been stripped of their 
population down to a mere fragment ' the possessors of 
those of Lovat have not been behind with their share of 
the same sad doings. Let us cross to the Conon and its 
branches, and we will find that the chieftains of the 
Mackenzies have not been less active in extermination. 
Breadalbane and Rannoch, in Perthshire, have a similar 
tale to tell, vast masses of the population having been 
forcibly expelled. The upper portions of Athole have also 
suffered, while many of the valleys along the Spey and its 
tributaries are without an inhabitant, if we except a few 
shepherds. Sutherland, with all its atrocities, affords 
but a fraction of the atrocities that have been perpetrated 
in following out the ejectment system of the Highlands. 
In truth, of the habitable portion of the whole country 
but a small part is now really inhabited. We are unwill- 
ing to weary our readers by carrying them along the west 
coast from the Linnhe Loch, northwards ; but if they 
inquire, they will find that the same system has been, 
in the case of most of the estates, relentlessly pursued. 

" These are facts of which, we believe, the British public 
know little, but they are facts on which the changes 
should be rung until they have listened to them and 
seriously considered them. May it not be that part of the 
guilt is theirs, who might, yet did not, step forward to 
stop such cruel and unwise proceedings ? 

" Let us leave the past, however " he continues, " and 
consider the present. And it is a melancholy reflection 


that the year 1849 h as added its long list to the roll of 
Highland ejectments. While the law is banishing its 
tens for terms of seven or fourteen years, as the penalty 
of deep-dyed crimes, irresponsible and infatuated power 
is banishing its thousands for life for no crime whatever. 
This year brings forward, as leader in the work of ex- 
patriation, the Duke of Argyll. Is it possible that his 
vast possessions are over-densely peopled ? " Credat 
Jud&us appelles." And the Highland Destitution 
Committee co-operate. We had understood that the 
large sums of money at their disposal had been given them 
for the purpose of relieving, and not of banishing, the 
destitute. Next we have Mr. Baillie of Glenelg, pro- 
fessedly at their own request, sending five hundred souls 
off to America. Their native glen must have been made 
not a little uncomfortable for these poor people, ere they 
could have petitioned for so sore a favour. Then we have 
Colonel Gordon expelling upwards of eighteen hundred 
souls from South Uist ; Lord Macdonald follows with a 
sentence of banishment against six or seven hundred 
of the people of North Uist, with a threat, as we learn, 
that three thousand are to be driven from Skye next 
season ; and Mr. Lillingston of Lochalsh, Maclean of 
Ardgour, and Lochiel, bring up the rear of the black 
catalogue, a large body of people having left the estates 
of the two latter, who, after a heart-rending scene of 
parting with their native land, are now on the wide sea 
on their way to Australia. Thus, within the last three 
or four months' considerably upwards of three thousand 
of the most moral and loyal of our people people who, 
even in the most trying circumstances, never required a 
soldier, seldom a policeman, among them, to maintain the 
peace are driven forcibly away to seek subsistence on a 
foreign soil." 

Writing in 1850, on more " Recent Highland 
Evictions," the same author says : 

" The moral responsibility for these transactions 
lies in a measure with the nation, and not merely 
with the individuals immediately concerned in 
them. Some years ago the fearful scenes that 


attended the slave trade were depicted in colours 
that finally roused the national conscience, and the 
nation gave its loud, indignant, and effective testimony 
against them. The tearing of human beings, with hearts 
as warm, and affections as strong as dwell in the bosom 
of the white man, from their beloved homes and families 
the packing them into the holds of over-crowded vessels, 
in the burning heat of the tropics the stifling atmosphere, 
the clanking chain, the pestilence, the bodies of the dead 
corrupting in the midst of the living presented a picture 
which deeply moved the national mind ; and there was 
felt to be guilt, deep-dyed guilt, and the nation relieved 
itself by abolishing the traffic. And is the nation free of 
guilt in this kind of white-slave traffic that is now going 
on this tearing of men whether they will or not, from 
their country and kindred this crowding them into 
often foul and unwholesome vessels with the accompany- 
ing deaths of hundreds whose eyes never rest on the land 
to which they are driven. Men may say that they have 
rights in the one case that they have not in the other. 
Then we say that they are rights into whose nature and 
fruits we would do well to enquire, lest it be found that 
the rude and lawless barbarism of Africa, and the high 
and boasted civilisation of Britain, land us in the same 
final results. . . . It is to British legislation that the 
people of the Highlands owe the relative position in which 
they stand to their chiefs. There was a time when they 
were strangers to the feudal system which prevailed in the 
rest of the kingdom. Every man among them sat as 
free as his chief. But by degrees the power of the latter, 
assisted by Saxon legislation, encroached upon the liberty 
of the former. Highland chiefs became feudal lords the 
people were robbed to increase their power- and now we 
are reaping the fruits of this in recent evictions." 

At a meeting of the Inverness, Ross, and Nairn Club, in 
Edinburgh, in 1877, the venerable Doctor referred to the 
same sad subject amid applause and expressions of regret. 
We extract the following from a report of the meeting 
which appeared at the time in the Inverness Courier : 

" The current that ran against their language seemed to 


be rising against the people themselves. The cry seemed 
to be, Do away with the people : this is the shorthand 
way of doing away with the language. He reminded 
them of the saying of a queen, that she would turn Scot- 
land into a hunting field, and of the reply of a Duke of 
Argyll it is time for me to make my hounds ready, 
and said he did not know whether there was now an Argyll 
who would make the same reply. But there were other 
folks less folks than queens who had gone pretty deep 
in the direction indicated by this queen. He would not 
say it was not a desirable thing to see Highlanders 
scattered over the earth they were greatly indebted to 
them in their cities and the colonies ; but he wished to 
preserve their Highland homes, from which the colonies 
and large cities derived their very best blood. Drive off 
the Highlander and destroy his home, and you destroy 
that which had produced some of the best and noblest 
men who filled important positions throughout the em- 
pire. In the interests of great cities, as a citizen of 
Edinburgh, he desired to keep the Highlanders in their 
own country, and to make them as comfortable as 
possible. He only wished that some of the Highland pro- 
prietors could see their way to offer sections of the land 
for improvement by the people, who were quite as able 
to improve the land in their own country as to improve 
the great forests of Canada. He himself would rather 
to-morrow begin to cultivate an acre in any habitable 
part of the Highlands of Scotland than to begin to culti- 
vate land such as that on which he had seen thousands 
of them working in the forests of Canada. What had all 
this to do with Celtic Literature? Dr. Maclachlan 
replied that the whole interest which Celtic Literature had 
to him was connected with the Celtic people, and if they 
destroyed the Celtic people, his entire interest in their 
literature perished. They had been told the other day 
that this was sentiment, and that there were cases in 
which sentiment was not desirable. He agreed with this 
so far * but he believed that when sentiment was driven 
out of a Highlander the best part of him was driven out, 
for it ever had a strong place among mountain people. 


He himself had a warm patriotic feeling, and he grieved 
whenever he saw a ruined house in any of their mountain 
glens. And ruined homes and ruined villages he, alas ! 
had seen villages on fire the hills red with burning 
homes. He never wished to see this sorry sight again. 
It was a sad, a lamentable sight, for he was convinced 
the country had not a nobler class of people than the 
Highland people, or a set of people better worth preserv- 


Mr. Robert Brown, Sheriff-Substitute of the Western 
District of Inverness-shire, in 1806, wrote a pamphlet of 
120 pages, now very scarce, entitled, " Strictures and 
Remarks on the Earl of Selkirk's ' Observations on the 
Present State of the Highlands of Scotland/ ' ' Sheriff 
Brown was a man of keen observation, and his work 
is a powerful argument against the forced depopulation 
of the country. Summing up the number who left from 
1 80 1 to 1803, he says : 

" In the year 1801, a Mr. George Dennon, from Pictou, 
carried out two cargoes of emigrants from Fort William 
to Pictou, consisting of about seven hundred souls. A 
vessel sailed the same season from Isle Martin with about 
one hundred passengers, it is believed, for the same 
place. l\o more vessels sailed that year ; but in 1802, 
eleven large ships sailed with emigrants to America. 
Of these, four were from Fort William, one from Knoy- 
dart, one from Isle Martin, one from Uist, one from 
Greenock. Five of these were bound for Canada, four 
for Pictou, and one for Cape Breton. The only remaining 
vessel, which took a cargo of people in Skye, sailed for 
Wilmington, in the United States. In the year 1803. 
exclusive of Lord Selkirk's transport, fleven cargoes 
of emigrants went from the North Highlands. Of these, 
four were from the Moray Firth, two from Ullapool, 
three from Stornoway, and two from Fort William. 
The whole of these cargoes were bound for the British 
settlements, and most of them were discharged at Pictou." 


Soon after, several other vessels sailed from the North 
West Highlands with emigrants, the whole of whom were 
for the British Colonies. In addition to these, Lord 
Selkirk took out 250 from South Uist in 1802, and in 1803 
he sent out to Prince Edward Island about 800 souls, in 
three different vessels, most of whom were from the Island 
of Skye, and the remainder from Ross-shire, !North Argyll, 
the interior of the County of Inverness, and the Island of 
Uist. In 1804, 1805, and 1806, several cargoes of High- 
landers left Mull, Skye, and other Western Islands, for 
Prince Edward Island and other Isorth American 
Colonies. Altogether, not less than 10,000 souls left the 
West Highlands and Isles during the first six years of the 
present century, a fact which will now appear incredible. 


Sir Walter Scott writes : " In too many instances 
the Highlands have been drained, not of their super- 
fluity of population, but of the whole mass of the 
inhabitants, dispossessed by an unrelenting avarice, 
which will be one day found to have been as short- 
sighted as it is unjust and selfish. Meantime, the 
Highlands may become the fairy ground for romance 
and poetry, or the subject of experiment for the 
professors of speculation, political and economical. But 
if the hour of need should come and it may not, perhaps, 
be far distant the pibroch may sound through the 
deserted region, but the summons will remain unan- 


M. Michelet, the great Continental historian, writes : 
" The Scottish Highlanders will ere long disappear 
from the face of the earth ; the mountains are 
daily depopulating ; the great estates have ruined 
the land of the Gael, as they did ancient Italy. 
The Highlander will ere long exist only in the 
romances of Walter Scott. The tartan and the clay- 
more excite surprise in the streets of Edinburgh ; the 


Highlanders disappear they emigrate their national 
airs will ere long be lost, as the music of the Bolian harp 
when the winds are hushed." 


In his work on the Nationalisation of Land, Mr. Alfred 
Russel Wallace, in the chapter on " Landlordism in 
Scotland," says to the English people : 

" The facts stated in this chapter will possess, 
I feel sure, for many Englishmen, an almost 
startling novelty ; the tale of oppression and cruelty 
they reveal reads like one of those hideous stories 
peculiar to the dark ages, rather than a simple 
record of events happening upon our own land and 
within the memory of the present generation. For a 
parallel to this monstrous power of the landowner, under 
which life and property are entirely at his mercy, we must 
go back to mediaeval, or to the days when serfdom not 
having been abolished, the Russian noble was armed with 
despotic authority ; while the more pitiful results of this 
landlord tyranny, the wide devastation of cultivated 
lands, the heartless burning of houses, the reckless crea- 
tion of pauperism and misery, out of well-being and 
contentment, could only be expected under the rule of 
Turkish Sultans or greedy and cruel Pashas. Yet these 
cruel deeds have been perpetrated in one of the most 
beautiful portions of our native land. They are not the 
work of uncultured barbarians or of fanatic Moslems, but 
of so-called civilised and Christian men ; and worst 
feature of all they are not due to any high-handed exer- 
cise of power beyond the law, but are strictly legal, are 
in many cases the acts of members of the Legislature 
itself, and, notwithstanding that they have been 
repeatedly made known for at least sixty years past, no 
steps have been taken, or are even proposed to be taken, 
by the Legislature to prevent them for the future ! 
Surely it is time that the people of England should declare 
that such things shall no longer exist that the rich shall 
no longer have such legal power to oppress the poor that 


the land shall be free for all who are willing to pay a fair 
value for its use and, as this is not possible under 
landlordism, that landlordism shall be abolished. . . . 

" The general results of thf system of modern landlord- 
ism in Scotland are not less painful than the hardship and 
misery brought upon individual sufferers. The earlier 
improvers, who drove the peasants from their sheltered 
valleys to the expose d sea-coast, in order to make room 
for sheep and sheep farmers, pleaded erroneously the 
public benefit as the justification of their conduct. They 
maintained that more food and clothing would be pro- 
duced by the new system, and that the people themselves 
would have the advantage of the produce of the sea as 
well as that of the land for their support. The result, 
however, proved them to be mistaken, for henceforth 
the cry of Highland destitution began to be heard, cul- 
minating at intervals into actual famines, like that of 
1836-37, when 70,000 were distributed to keep the 
Highlanders from death by starvation. . . . just as 
in Ireland, there was abundance of land capable of culti- 
vation, but the people were driven to the coast and to the 
towns to make way for sheep, and cattle, and lowland 
farmers ; and when the barren and inhospitable tracts 
allotted to them became overcrowded, they were told to 
emigrate. As the Rev. J. Macleod says : " By the 
clearances one part is depopulation and the other over- 
populated ; the people are gathered into villages where 
there is no steady employment for them, where idleness 
has its baneful influence and lands them in penury and 

"The actual effect of this system of eviction and emigra- 
tion of banishing the native of the soil and giving it to 
the stranger is shown in the steady increase of poverty 
indicated by the amount spent for the relief of the poor 
having increased from less than 300,000 in 1846 to more 
than 900,000 now ; while in the same period the popu- 
lation has only increased from 2,770,000 to 3,627,000, so 
that pauperism has grown about nine times faster than 
population ! . . . . The fact that a whole popula- 
tion could be driven from their homes like cattle at the 


will of a landlord, and that the Government which taxed 
them, and for whom they freely shed their blood on the 
battle-field, neither would nor could protect them from 
cruel interference with their personal liberty, is surely the 
most convincing and most absolute demonstration of the 
incompatibility of landlordism with the elementary 
rights of a free people. 

" As if, however, to prove this still more clearly, and to 
show how absolutely incompatible with the well-being 
of the community is modern landlordism, the great lords 
of the soil in Scotland have for the last twenty years or 
more been systematically laying waste enormous areas 
of land for purposes of sport, just as the Norman Con- 
queror laid waste the area of the New Forest for similar 
purposes. At the present time, more than two million 
acres of Scottish soil are devoted to the preservation of 
deer alone an area larger than the entire Counties of 
Kent and Surrey combined. Glen Tilt Forest includes 
100,000 acres * the Black Mount is sixty miles in circum- 
ference ; and Ben Alder Forest is fifteen miles long by 
seven broad. On many of these forests there is the finest 
pasture in Scotland, while the valleys would support a 
considerable population of small farmers, yet all this land 
is devoted to the sport of the wealthy, farms being de- 
stroyed, houses pulled down, and men, sheep, and cattle 
all banished to create a wilderness for the deer-stalkers ! 
At the same time the whole people of England are shut 
out from many of the grandest and most interesting scenes 
of their native land, gamekeepers and watchers forbidding 
the tourist or naturalist to trespass on some of the wildest 
Scotch mountains. 

" Now, when we remember that the right to a property 
in these unenclosed mountains was most unjustly given to 
the representatives of the Highland chiefs little more 
than a century ago, and that they and their successors 
have grossly abused their power ever since, it is surely 
time to assert those fundamental maxims of jurisprudence 
which state that " No man can have a vested right in the 
misfortunes and woes of his country," and that " the 
Sovereign ought not to allow either communities or pri- 



vate individuals to acquire large tracts of land in order 
to leave it uncultivated." If the oft-repeated maxim 
that " property has its duties as well as its rights " is not 
altogether a mockery, then we maintain that in this case 
the total neglect of all the duties devolving on the owners 
of these vast tracts of land affords ample reason why the 
State should take possession of them for the public bene- 
fit. A landlord government will, of course, never do this 
till the people declare unmistakably that it must be done. 
To such a government the rights of property are sacred, 
while those of their fellow-citizens are of comparatively 
little moment ; but we feel sure that when the people fully 
know and understand the doings of the landlords of Scot- 
land, the reckless destruction of homesteads, and the 
silent sufferings of the brave Highlanders, they will make 
their will known, and, when they do so, that will must 
soon be embodied into law." 

After quoting the opinion of the Rev. Dr. John 
Kennedy of Dingwall, given at length on other pages, 
Mr. Wallace next quotes from an article in the West- 
minster Review, in 1868. " The Gaels," this writer says, 
" rooted from the dawn of history on the slopes of the 
northern mountains, have been thinned out and thrown 
away like young turnips too thickly planted. Noble 
gentlemen and noble ladies have shown a flintiness of 
heart and a meanness of detail in carrying out their 
clearings, upon which it is revolting to dwell ] and after 
all, are the evils of over-population cured ? Does not the 
disease still spring up under the very torture of the knife ? 
Are not the crofts slowly and silently taken at every 
opportunity out of the hands of the peasantry ? When a 
Highlander has to leave his hut there is now no resting- 
place for him save the cellars or attics of the closes of 
Glasgow, or some other large centre of employment j it 
has been noticed that the poor Gael is even more liable 
than the Irishman to sink under the debasement in which 
he is then immersed." The same writer holds : " No 
error could be grosser than that of reviewing the chiefs as 
unlimited proprietors not only of the land, but of the 
whole territory of the mountain, lake, river, and sea-shore, 


held and won during hundreds of years by the broad 
swords of the clansmen. Could any Maclean admit, 
even in a dream, that his chief could clear Mull of all the 
Macleans and replace them with Campbells ; or the 
Mackintosh people his lands with Macdonalds, and drive 
away his own race, any more than Louis Napoleon could 
evict all the population of France and supply their place 
with English and German colonists ? " Yet this very 
power and right the English Government, in its aristo- 
cratic selfishness, bestowed upon the chiefs, when, after 
the great rebellion of 1745, it took away their privileges 
of war and criminal jurisdiction, and endeavoured to 
assimilate them to the nobles and great landowners of 
England. The rights of the clansmen were left entirely 
out of consideration.* 


The following remarks by the celebrated French 
economist, M. de Lavaleye, will prove interesting. There 
is no greater living authority on land tenure than this 
writer, and being a foreigner, his opinions are not open 
as the opinions of our own countrymen may be to the 
suspicion of political bias or partisanship on a question 
which is of universal interest all over the world. Re- 
ferring to land tenure in this country, he says : 

" The dispossession of the old proprietors, transformed 
by time into new tenants, was effected on a larger scale by 
the " clearing of estates." When a lord of the manor, for 
his own profit, wanted to turn the small holdings into 
large farms, or into pasturage, the small cultivators were 
of no use. The proprietors adopted a simple means of 
getting rid of them \ and, by destroying their dwellings, 
forced them into exile. The classical land of this system 
is Ireland, or more particularly the Highlands of Scotland. 

* Land Nationalisation, its Necessities and Aims ; bevng a Com- 
parison of the System of Landlord and Tenant with that of Occupy- 
ing Ownership, in their influence on the well-being of the People, by 
Alfred Russel Wallace, author of " The Malay Archipelago," 
" Island Lrife," &c. London : Triibner & Co., 1882. 


"It is now clearly established that in Scotland, just as in 
Ireland, the soil was once the property of the clan or sept. 
The chiefs of the clan had certain rights over the com- 
munal domain * but they were even further from being 
proprietors than was Louis XIV. from being proprietor 
of the territory of France. By successive encroachments, 
however, they transformed their authority of suzerain 
into a right of private ownership, without even recognis- 
ing in their old co-proprietors a right of hereditary posses- 
sion. In a similar way the Zemindars and Talugdars 
in India were, by the Act of the British Government, 
transformed into absolute proprietors. Until modern 
days the chiefs of the clan were interested in retaining a 
large number of vassals, as their power, and often their 
security, were only guaranteed by their arms. But 
when the order was established, and the chiefs or lords, 
as they now were began to reside in the towns, and re- 
quired large revenues rather than numerous retainers, 
they endeavoured to introduce large farms and pasturage. 

" We may follow the first phases of this revolution, which 
commences after the last rising under the Pretender, in 
the works of James Anderson, and James Stuart. The 
latter tells us that in his time in the last third of the 
1 8th century the Highlands of Scotland still presented 
a miniature picture of the Europe of four hundred years 
ago. The rent (so he misnames the tribute paid to 
the chief of the clan) of these lands is very little in com- 
parison with their extent, but if it is regarded relatively 
to the number of mouths which the farm supports, it 
will be seen that land in the Scotch Highlands supports 
perhaps twice as many persons as land of the same value 
in a fertile province. When, in the last thirty years of 
the 1 8th century, they began to expel the Gaels, they at 
the same time forbade them to emigrate to a foreign 
country, so as to compel them by these means to congre- 
gate in Glasgow and other manufacturing towns. 

In his observations on Smith's Wealth of Nations, pub- 
lished ini8i4, David Buchanan gives us an idea of the pro- 
gress made by the clearing of estates. 'In the Highlands,' 
he says, ' the landed proprietor, without regard to the 


hereditary tenants ' (he wrongly applies this term to the 
clansmen who were joint proprietors of the soil), ' offers 
the land to the highest bidder, who, if he wishes to im- 
prove the cultivation, is anxious for nothing but the in- 
troduction of a new system. The soil, dotted with small 
peasant proprietors, was formerly well populated in pro- 
portion to its natural fertility. The new system of im- 
proved agriculture and increased rents demands the 
greatest net profit with the least possible outlay, and with 
this object the cultivators are got rid of as being of no 
further use. Thus cast from their native soil, they go to 
seek their living in the manufacturing towns/ 

"George Ensor, in a work published in 1818, says: They 
(the landed proprietors of Scotland) dispossessed families 
as they would grub up coppice-wood, and they treated 
the villages and their people as Indians harassed with 
wild beasts do in their vengeance a jungle with tigers. 
. . . . It is credible, that in the igth century, in this 
missionary age, in this Christian era, man shall be bar- 
tered for a fleece or a carcase of mutton nay, held 
cheaper ? . . . . Why, how much worse is it than 
the intention of the Moguls, who, when they had broken 
into the northern provinces of China, proposed in Council 
to exterminate the inhabitants, and convert the land into 
pasture ? This proposal many Highland proprietors 
have effected in their own country against their own coun- 

"M. de Sismondi has rendered celebrated on the Con- 
tinent the famous clearing executed between 1814 and 
1820 by the Duchess of Sutherland. More than three 
thousand families were driven out ; and 800,000 acres of 
land, which formerly belonged to the clan, were trans- 
ormed into seignorial domain. Men were driven out to 
make room for sheep. The sheep are now replaced by 
deer, and the pastures converted into deer forests, which 
are treeless solitudes. The Economist of June 2, 1866, 
said on this subject : Feudal instincts have as full 
career now as in the time when the Conqueror destroyed 
thirty-six villages to make the New Forest. Two 
millions of acres, comprising most fretile land, have been 


changed into desert. The natural herbage in Glen Tilt 
was known as the most succulent in Perth \ the deer 
forest of Ben Alder was the best natural meadow of 
Badenoch ; the forest of Black Mount was the best 
pasturage in Scotland for black-woolled sheep. The soil 
thus sacrificed for the pleasures of the chase extends 
over an area larger than the county of Perth. The land 
in the new Ben Alder forest supported 15,000 sheep ; and 
this is but the thirtieth part of the territory sacrificed, 
and thus rendered as unproductive as if it were buried 
in the depths of the sea. 

" The destruction of small property is still going on, no 
longer, however, by encroachment, but by purchase. 
Whenever land comes into the market it is bought by 
some rich capitalist, because the expenses of legal inquiry 
are too great for a small investment. Thus, large pro- 
perties are consolidated, and fall, so to speak, into mort- 
main, in consequence of the law of primogeniture and 
entails. In the I5th century, according to Chancellor 
Fortescue, England was quoted throughout Europe for its 
number of proprietors and the comfort of its inhabitants. 
In 1688, Gregory King estimates that there were 180,000 
proprietors, exclusive of 16,560 proprietors of noble rank. 
In 1786 there were 250,000 proprietors of England. 
According to the " Domesday Book " of 1876, there were 
170,000 rural proprietors in England owning above an 
acre ; 21,000 in Ireland, and 8000 in Scotland. A fifth 
of the entire country is in the hands of 523 persons. 
Are you aware, said Mr. Bright, in a speech delivered 
at Birmingham, August 27, 1866, that one-half of the 
soil of Scotland belongs to ten or twelve persons ? Are 
you aware of the fact that the monopoly of landed pro- 
perty is continually increasing and becoming more and 
more exclusive ? 

" In England, then, as at Rome, large property has 
swallowed up small property, in consequence of a con- 
tinuous evolution unchecked from the beginning to the 
end of the nation's history ; and the social order seems 
to be threatened just as in the Roman Empire. 

" An ardent desire for a more equal division of the pro- 


duce of labour inflames the labouring classes, and passes 
from land to land. In England, it arouses agitation 
among the industrial classes, and is beginning to invade 
the rural districts. It obviously menaces landed property 
as constituted in this country. The labourers who till 
the soil will claim their share in it j and, if they fail to 
obtain it here, will cross the sea in search of it. To retain 
a hold on them they must be given a vote } and there is 
fresh danger in increasing the number of electors while 
that of proprietors diminishes, and maintaining laws 
which renders inequality greater and more striking, while 
ideas of equality are assuming more formidable sway. 
To make the possession of the soil a closed monopoly 
and to augment the political powers of the class who are 
rigidly excluded, is at once to provoke levelling measures 
and to facilitate them. Accordingly we find that England 
is the country where the scheme of the nationalisation of 
the land finds most adherents, and is most widely pro- 
claimed. The country which is furthest from the primi- 
tive organisations of property is likewise the one where 
the social order seems most menaced." 


In a speech delivered at Inverness, on i8th September, 
1885, Mr. Joseph Chamberlain said : 

" The history of the Highland clearances is a black page 
in the account with private ownership in land, and if it 
were to form a precedent, if there could be any precedent 
for wrong-doing, if the sins of the fathers ought to be 
visited upon the children, we should have an excuse for 
more drastic legislation than any which the wildest re- 
former has ever proposed. Thousands of industrious, 
hard-working, God-fearing people were driven from the 
lands which had belonged to their ancestors, and which 
for generations they had cultivated ; their houses were 
unroofed and destroyed, they were turned out homeless 
and forlorn, exposed to the inclemency of the winter 
season, left to perish on the hillsides or to swell the full 
flood of misery and destitution in the cities to which they 


were driven for refuge. In some cases the cruel kindness 
of their landlords provided the means of emigration in 
some cases they were actually driven abroad. They 
suffered greatly in foreign countries, being unprovided 
with the means of sustaining themselves until they could 
earn a livelihood, but the descendants of those who sur- 
vived have contributed in no mean degree to the pros- 
perity of the countries in which they finally settled. 
Those who remained behind had, I am afraid, little cause 
to be grateful for the conside ration which was shown to 
them. In the course of years they were deprived of all 
the advantages which they had previously enjoyed. 
They had never had legal security of tenure, and they 
were transferred from their original holdings in the glens 
and straths, which at one time resounded with their in- 
dustry, and they were placed out upon barren patches 
on the sea-shore where it was impossible for the most 
exacting toil and industry to obtain a subsistence. The 
picture that I have drawn was no doubt relieved in some 
cases by the exceptional generosity and kindness of par- 
ticular proprietors, but, speaking generally, I think it 
is the fact that the Highland country was to a consider- 
able extent depopulated by those clearances. The 
general condition of the people suffered, and it has gone on 
deteriorating until it has become at last a matter of 
national concern. If I am correct in the statement in 
which I have endeavoured to summarise what I have read, 
and learned upon this subject, I ask you whether it is not 
time that we should submit to careful examination and 
review a system which places such vast powers for evil in 
the hands of irresponsible individuals, and which makes 
the possession of land not a trust but a means of ex- 
tortion and exaction ? " 


The reader is already acquainted with the misery 
endured by those evicted from Barra and South Uist by 


Colonel Gordon, after their arrival in Canada. This was 
no isolated case. We shall here give a few instances of 
the unspeakable suffering of those pioneers who left so 
early as 1773, in the ship Hector, for Pictou, Nova Scotia, 
gathered from trustworthy sources during the writer's 
late visit to that country. The Hector was owned by two 
men, Pagan and Witherspoon, who bought three shares 
of land in Pictou, and they engaged a Mr. John Ross as 
their agent, to accompany the vessel to Scotland, to bring 
out as many colonists as could be induced, by mis- 
representation and falsehoods, to leave their homes. They 
offered a free passage, a farm, and a year's free provisions 
to their dupes. On his arrival in Scotland, Ross drew a 
glowing picture of the land and other manifold advan- 
tages of the country to which he was enticing the 

The Highlanders knew nothing of the difficulties await- 
ing them in a land covered over with a dense unbroken 
forest ; and, tempted by the prospect of owning splendid 
farms of their own, they were imposed upon by his pro- 
mise, and many of them agreed to accompany him across 
the Atlantic and embraced his proposals. Calling first at 
Greenock, three families and five single young men joined 
the vessel at that port. She then sailed to Lochbroom, 
in Ross-shire, where she received 33 families and 25 
single men, the whole of her passengers numbering about 
200 souls. This band, in the beginning of July, 1773, 
bade a final farewell to their native land, not a soul on 
board having ever crossed the Atlantic except a single 
sailor and John Ross, the agent. As they were leaving, 
a piper came on board who had not paid his passage ; 
the captain ordered him ashore, but the strains of the 
national instrument affected those on board so much that 
they pleaded to have him allowed to accompany them, 
and offered to share their own rations with him in ex- 
change for his music during the passage. Their request 
was granted, and his performances aided in no small 
degree to cheer the noble bandjof pioneers in their long 
voyage of eleven weeks, in a miserable hulk, across the 


The pilgrim band kept up their spirits as best 
they could by song, pipe-music, dancing, wrestling, and 
other amusements, through the long and painful voyage. 
The ship was so rotten that the passengers could pick the 
wood cut of her sides with their fingers. They met with a 
severe gale off the Newfoundland coast, and were driven 
back by it so far that it took them about fourteen days to 
get back to the point at which the storm met them. The 
accommodation was wretched, smallpox and dysentry 
broke out among the passengers. Eighteen of the 
children died, and were committed to the deep amidst 
such anguish and heart-rending agony as only a High- 
lander can understand. Their stock of provisions became 
almost exhausted, the water became scarce and bad ; 
the remnant of provisions left consisted mainly of salt 
meat, which, from the scarcity of water, added greatly 
to their sufferings. The oatcake carried by them be- 
came mouldy, so that much of it had been thrown away 
before they dreamt of having such a long passage. 
Fortunately for them, one of the passengers, Hugh Mac- 
leod, more prudent than the others, gathered up the 
despised scraps into a bag, and during the last few days 
of the voyage his fellows were too glad to join him in de- 
vouring this refuse to keep souls and bodies together. 

At last the Hector dropped anchor in the harbour, 
opposite where the town of Pictou now stands. Though 
the Highland dress was then proscribed at home, this 
emigrant band carried theirs along with them, and, in 
celebration of their arrival, many of the younger men 
donned their national dress to which a few of them were 
able to add the sgian dubh and the claymore while the 
piper blew up his pipes with might and main, its thrilling 
tones, for the first time, startling the denizens of the end- 
less forest, and its echoes resounding through the wild 
solitude. Scottish emigrants are admitted upon all 
hands to have given its backbone of moral and religious 
strength to the Province, and to those brought over from 
the Highlands in this vessel is due the honour of being 
in the forefront the pioneers and vanguard. 

But how different was the reality to the expectations of 


these poor creatures, led by the plausibility of the emigra- 
tion agent, to expect free estates on their arrival. 

The whole scene, as far as the eye could see, was a dense 
forest. They crowded on the deck to take stock of their 
future home, and their hearts sank within them. They were 
landed without the provisions promised, without shelter 
of any kind, and were only able by the aid of those few 
before them, to erect camps of the rudest and most primi- 
tive description, to shelter their wives and their children 
from the elements. Their feelings of disappointment 
were most bitter, when they compared the actual facts 
with the free farms and the comfort promised them by the 
lying emigration agent. Many of them sat down in the 
forest and wept bitterly \ hardly any provisions were 
possessed by the few who were before them, and what 
there was among them was soon devoured \ making all 
old and new comers almost destitute. It was now too 
late to raise any crops that year. To make matters 
worse they were sent some three miles into the forest, 
so that they could not even take advantage with the same 
ease of any fish that might be caught in the harbour. 
The whole thing appeared an utter mockery. To un- 
skilled men the work of clearing seemed hopeless ; they 
were naturally afraid of the Red Indian and of the wild 
beasts of the forest ; without roads or paths, they were 
frightened to move for fear of getting lost. 

Can we wonder that, in such circumstances, they 
refused to settle on the company's lands ? though, in con- 
sequence, when provisions arrived, the agents refused to 
give them any. Ross and the company quarrelled, and 
he ultimately left the newcomers to their fate. The few 
of them who had a little money bought what provisions 
they could from the agents, while others, less fortunate, 
exchanged their clothes for food ; but the greater number 
had neither money nor clothes to spend or exchange, and 
they were all soon left quite destitute. Thus driven to 
extremity, they determined to have the provisions re- 
tained by the agents, right or wrong, and two of them 
went to claim them. They were positively refused, bu 
they determined to take what they could by force. 


They seized the agents, tied them, took their guns from 
them, which they hid at a distance ; told them that they 
must have the food for their families, but that they were 
quite willing and determined to pay for them if ever they 
were able to do so. They then carefully weighed or 
measured the various articles, took account of what each 
man received and left, except one, the latter, a powerful 
and determined fellow, who was left behind to release the 
two agents. This he did, after allowing sufficient time 
for his friends to get to a safe distance, when he informed 
the prisoners where they could find their guns. Intelli- 
gence was sent to Halifax that the Highlanders were in 
rebellion, from whence orders were sent to a Captain 
Archibald in Truro, to march his company of militia to 
suppress and pacify them \ but to his honour be it said, 
he, point blank, refused, and sent word that he would do 
no such thing. " I know the Highlanders," he said, 
" and if they are fairly treated there will be no trouble 
with them." Finally, orders were given to supply them 
with provisions, and Mr. Paterson, one of the agents, 
used afterwards to say that the Highlanders who arrived 
in poverty, and who had been so badly treated, had paid 
him every farthing with which he had trusted 

It would be tedious to describe the sufferings which 
they afterwards endured. Many of them left. Others, 
fathers, mothers, and children, bound themselves away, 
as virtual slaves, in other settlements, for mere sub- 
sistence. Those who remained lived in small huts, 
covered only with the bark of branches of trees to shelter 
them from the bitter winter cold, of the severity of which 
they had no previous conception. They had to walk 
some eighty miles, through a trackless forest, in deep snow 
to Truro, to obtain a few bushels of potatoes, or a little 
flour in exchange for their labour, dragging these back all 
the way again on their backs, and endless cases of great 
suffering from actual want occurred. The remembrance 
of these terrible days sank deep into the minds of that 
generation, and long after, even to this day, the narration 
of the scenes and cruel hardships through which they had 


to pass beguiled, and now beguiles many a winter's night 
as they sit by their now comfortable firesides. 

In the following spring they set to work. They cleared 
some of the forest, and planted a larger crop. They 
learned to hunt the moose, a kind of large deer. They 
began to cut timber, and sent a cargo of it from Pictou 
the first of a trade very profitably and extensively carried 
on ever since. The population had, however, grown less 
than it was before their arrival ; for in this year it 
amounted only to 78 persons. One of the modes of laying 
up a supply of food for the winter was to dig up a large 
quantity of clams or large oysters, pile them in large heaps 
on the sea-shore, and then cover them over with sand, 
though they were often, in winter, obliged to cut through 
ice more than a foot thick to get at them. This will 
give a fair idea of the hardships experienced by the 
earlier emigrants to these Colonies. 

In Prince Edward Island, however, a colony from 
Lockerbie, in Dumfriesshire, who came out in 1774, 
seemed to have fared even worse. They commenced 
operations on the Island with fair prospects of success, 
when a plague of locusts, or field mice, broke out, and 
consumed everything, even the potatoes in the ground ; 
and for eighteen months the settlers experienced all the 
miseries of a famine, having for several months only what 
lobsters or shell-fish they could gather from the sea-shore. 
The winter brought them to such a state of weakness 
that they were unable to convey food a reasonable dis- 
tance even when they had means to buy it. 

In this pitiful position they heard that the Pictou 
people were making progress that year, and that they had 
even some provisions to spare. They sent one of their 
number to make enquiry. An American settler, when he 
came to Pictou, brought a few slaves with him, and at 
this time he had just been to Truro to sell one of them, 
and brought home some provisions with the proceeds 
of the sale of his negro. The messenger from Prince 
Edward Island was putting up at this man's house. He 
was a bit of a humorist, and continued cheerful in spite of 
all his troubles. On his return to the Island, the people 


congregated to hear the news. " What kind of place is 
Pictou ? " enquired one. " Oh, an awful place. Why, I 
was staying with a man who was just eating the last of his 
niggers ;" and the poor creatures were reduced to such a 
point themselves that they actually believed the people 
of Pictou to be in such a condition as to oblige them to live 
on the flesh of their coloured servants. They were told, 
however, that matters were not quite so bad as that, and 
fifteen families left for the earlier settlement, where, for a 
time, they fared but very little better, but afterwards 
became prosperous and happy. A few of their children 
and thousands of their grandchildren are now living in 
comfort and plenty. 

But who can think of these early hardships and cruel 
existences without condemning even hating the 
memories of the harsh and heartless Highland and 
Scottish lairds, who made existence at home even almost 
as miserable for those noble fellows, and who then drove 
them in thousands out of their native land, not caring 
one iota whether they sank in the Atlantic, or were 
starved to death on a strange and uncongenial soil ? 
Retributive justice demands that posterity should 
execrate the memories of the authors of such misery and 
horrid cruelty. It may seem uncharitable to write thus 
of the dead but it is impossible to forget their inhuman 
conduct, though, no thanks to them cruel tigers in 
human form it has turned out for the better, for the 
descendants of those who were banished to what was then 
infinitely worse than transportation for the worst crimes. 
Such criminals were looked after and cared for \ but those 
poor fellows, driven out of their homes by the Highland 
lairds, and sent across there, were left to starve, helpless, 
and uncared for. Their descendants are now a prosper- 
ous and thriving people, and retribution is at hand. The 
descendants of the evicted from Sutherland, Ross, Inver- 
ness-shires, and elsewhere, to Canada, are producing 
enormous quantities of food, and millions of cattle, to 
pour them into this country. What will be the conse- 
quence ? The sheep farmer the primary and original 
cause of the evictions will be the first to suffer. The 


price of stock in Scotland must inevitably fall. Rents 
must follow, and the joint authors of the original iniquity 
will, as a class, then suffer the natural and just penalty of 
their past misconduct. 


Giving evidence before the Deer Forest Commission of 
1892, the late Mr. ^neas R. Macdonell of Camusdar- 
roch, Arisaig, made an interesting statement. After 
mentioning that he was a member of the Scottish Bar, and 
had previously been proprietor of Morar, he proceeded : 

I am able to speak generally as to the population 
there used to be in Arisaig in my young days, in fact, 
the whole tract of country seemed to be populated and to 
have numerous houses on all parts of it J but I want to 
confine my evidence almost entirely to that portion of the 
district which is now under deer forest. It is now 
called Rhu-Arisaig, but 100 years ago it was called 

Although I am only seventy-two years of age, I am 
able to speak of thirty years beyond that, from 1794. 
My grandfather occupied the various places or townships 
in Dubh-chamus or Rudha. These were Dubh-chamus, 
Rhu, Tirnadrish, Torbae, Rhubrec, Tormor, Rhuemoch, 
Claggan, Portavullid, Bal-ur, Ardgaserie, and Achagar- 
railt. I am able to speak concerning that period from an 
old account-book belonging to my grandfather, to which 
I had access a good many years ago, and it was in con- 
nection with a very melancholy occasion in which I was 
unfortunately implicated, viz., an emigration from the 
estate of Loch Sheil in Moidart. In that account-book 
I found thirty-seven names of individuals in the various 
families who were paying rent, as sub-tenants to my 
grandfather, Archibald Macdonald, Rudha, Arisaig, 
who died, I think, in 1828 or 1829. I don't know where 
that account-book now is. At that time it was in the 
possession of my uncle, Macdonald of Loch Sheil ; and 


I may as well mention that it was in connection with 
Rudha that I came to examine the book. 

First I should mention that these people occupied 
Rhu as cottars, and they had land for which apparently 
they paid no rent, but worked the land, of which Mr. 
Macdonald of Rudha cropped a portion. They paid rent 
for grazing, a small nominal sum, and he himself paid a 
very small rent also to the then proprietor, Macdonald 
of Clanranald. In fact he, as well as Macdonald of 
Borrodale and Macdonald of Glen Alladale, came into 
possession of the various lands as being sons of the then 
Macdonald of Clanranald. They took these lands with 
the population on them, and occupied them. 

The rents were paid to the tenants, to these Mac- 
donalds, at a very small rate, because they themselves 
were not highly charged. 

It so came to pass that in Lord Cranston's time my 
uncle, Gregor Macdonald, who then occupied Rudha, 
had to give a large increase of rent, or be quit of it. Well, 
he could not under the old system on which he held 
it afford to give more rent. The consequence was that 
the farm was taken over him j and the cruel thing was, 
that he was obliged to remove all the sub-tenants upon it 
who had been there generations before him or his an- 
cestors. The only thing that he could do was to get his 
brother Macdonald of Loch Sheil to take the people over 
to Loch Sheil in Moidart. Times grew black, and the 
potato famine occurred, and the consequence was that 
there was a redundant population, for Moidart had 
previously been well inhabitated, and the addition of so 
many families from Rudha, Arisaig, quite overwhelmed 
them when the potato famine occurred. 

I was then puzzled to know how many came from 
Rhu, Arisaig, and I got access in that way to the old books 
from which I took an extract, and I have here a list 
of the names of the various people and the portions of 
Rudha that they occupied. In Ardgaserich there were 
12, viz., Lachlan Mackinnon, Donald Roy Machines, 
John Macintyre, John Mackinnon, Patrick Maccormack, 
Neil Mackinnon, Ronald Macdonald, Mrs. Macdonald, 


Donald Macvarish, Duncan Machines, John Macdonald, 
and Allan Mackinnon. In Torbae there were 4, viz., 
Angus Smith, L. Mackinnon, J. Macdonald, John 
Maciasaac. In Dubh-chamus, ten, viz., John Kinnaird, 
John Macisaac, Finlay Mackellaig, Archibald Macfar- 
lane, James Macdonald, Widow Maceachan, Patrick 
Grant, Allan Mackinnon, Dugald Macpherson, and 
Widow Maclean. In Rudha, n, viz., Mrs. Donald 
Macdonald, Donald Macinnes, Roderick Mackinnon, 
John Maccormack, Rory Smith, Angus Bain Macdonald, 
Ewan Mackinnon, Peter Macfarlane, Dugald Gillies, 
Alexander Macleod, Angus Roy Maceachan. These are 
in all 37, and they are evidently of different families. 
The rents were given, and the payments made, and 
everything in connection with their holdings. The date 
of this is 1794. 

I was going on to explain that these people, or rather 
the descendants of some of them, had to be removed to 
Moidart, and in the congested state of the estate it had 
to be considered what was best to be done. I was then 
a young man. I had just passed at the Bar, and I and 
the late respected James Macgregor of Fort William 
were appointed trustees to do what was best. We 
could see nothing for it, it was impossible for the 
people to subsist, but to assist them to emigrate, and 
we were assisted very materially in carrying out the 
emigration by the resident Catholic clergyman of that 
time, Rev. Ronald Pankine, who indeed followed them. 
So many of them went to Australia and a few of them 
to America. But never shall I forget until my dying 
day, it is a source of grief to me that I had anything 
whatsoever to do with that emigration, although, at 
the same time, God knows I cannot understand how it 
could have been averted. Many of the people have 
succeeded well and are well-to-do, but if they had re- 
mained, they would have been impoverished themselves, 
and they would have impoverished the few that are still 
on the estate. 



In his interesting volume entitled Reminiscences 
and Reflections of an Octogenarian Gael, Mr. Duncan Camp- 
bell, for over twenty-six years editor of the Northern 
Chronicle, writes as follows with regard to the Breadal- 
bane Evictions : 

As second Marquis, " the son of his father," contrary 
to all prognostications, became, as soon as expiring 
leases permitted it, an evicting landlord on a large 
scale, and he continued to pursue the policy of joining 
farm to farm, and turning out native people, to the 
end of his twenty-eight years' reign. But like the 
first spout of the haggis, his first spout of evicting energy 
was the hottest. I saw with childish sorrow, impotent 
wrath, and awful wonder at man's inhumanity to man, 
the harsh and sweeping Roro and Morenish clearances, 
and heard much talk about others which were said to be 
as bad if not worse. A comparison of the census returns 
for 1831 with those of 1861 will show how the second 
Marquis reduced the rural population on his large estates, 
while the inhabitants of certain villages were allowed, 
or, as at Aberfeldy, encouraged to increase. When 
such a loud and long-continued outcry took place about 
the Sutherland clearances, it seems at first sight strange 
that such small notice was taken by the Press, 
authors, and contemporary politicians, of the Breadal- 
bane evictions, and that the only set attack on the 
Marquis should have been left to the vainglorious, blun- 
dering, Dunkeld coal merchant, who added the chief-like 
word " Dunalastair " to his designation. One reason 
perchance the chief one for the Marquis's immunity was 
the prominent manner in which he associated himself 
with the Nonintrusionists, and his subsequently be- 
coming an elder and a liberal benefactor of the Free 
Church. He had a Presbyterian upbringing, and lived 
in accordance with that upbringing. His Free Church 
zeal may, therefore, have been as genuine as he wished 
it to be believed ; but whether simply real or partly 


simulated, it covered as with a saintly cloak his evictions 
proceedings in the eyes of those who would have been his 
loud denouncers and scourging critics had he been an 
Episcopalian or remained in the Church of Scotland. The 
people he evicted, and all of us, young and old, who were 
witnesses of the clearances, could not give him much 
credit for any good in what seemed to us the purely hard 
and commercial spirit of the policy which he carried out 
as the owner of a princely Highland property. Such of 
the witnesses of the clearances as have lived to see the 
present desolation of rural baronies on the Breadalbane 
estates can now charitably assume that, had he foreseen 
what his land-management policy was to lead up to, 
he would, at least, have gone about his thinning-out 
business in a more cautious, kindly, and considerate 
manner, and not rudely cut, as he did, the precious 
ties of hereditary mutual sympathy and reliance which 
had long existed between the lords and the native High- 
land people of Breadalbane. 

It is quite true that in 1834 the population on the 
Breadalbane estate needed thinning. The old Marquis 
had made a great mistake in dividing holdings which 
were too small before, in order to make room for Fencible 
soldiers who were not, as eldest sons, heirs to existing 
holdings. In twenty years, congestion to an alarming 
extent was the natural result of the old man's mistaken 
kindness. There was indeed a good deal of congestion 
before that mistake was committed, although migration 
and emigration helped to keep it within some limits. 
Emigration would have proceeded briskly from 1760 
onwards had it not been discouraged by landlords who 
found the fighting manhood on their estates a valuable 
asset \ and when not positively prohibited, emigration 
was impeded in various ways by the Government, now 
alive to the value of Highlands and Isles as a nursery of 
soldiers and sailors. Although discouraged and impeded, 
emigration was never wholly stopped, and after Waterloo 
Glenlyon, Fortingall, and Breadalbane, Rannoch, Strath- 
earn and Balquhidder, sent off swarms to Canada, the 
United States, and the West Indies. A large swarm 


from Breadalbane, Lochearnhead, and Balquhidder 
went off to Nova Scotia about 1828, and got Gaelic- 
speaking ministers to follow them. In 1829 a great 
number of Skyemen from Lord Macdonald's estate went 
to Cape Breton, where Gaelic is the language of the people 
and pulpit to this day. The second Marquis of Breadal- 
bane would have won for himself lasting glory and 
honour, and done his race and country valuable service, 
if he had chosen to place himself at the head of an emi- 
gration scheme for his surplus people, instead of merely 
driving them away, and further trampling on their feel- 
ings by letting the big farms he made by clearing out the 
native population to strangers in race, language, and 
sympathies. He was rich, childless, and gifted, and he 
utterly missed his vocation, or grand chance for gaining 
lasting fame among the children of the Gael. 

At a later period of my life than this of which I 
am now writing, I looked into many kirk session books, 
and found that those of the parishes of Kenmore and 
Killin indicated a worse state of matters in Breadalbane 
than existed in any of the neighbouring parishes. Pauper- 
ism was increasing at a rapid rate, although it was a 
notorious fact that rents there were lower than on other 
Highland estates. The old Marquis was never a rack- 
renter. Other proprietors, when leases terminated, took 
more advantage than he did of a chance to raise rents, 
and when once raised they strove ever afterwards to 
keep them up. But I do not wonder that his son thought 
that if things were allowed to go on as he found them on 
succeeding to titles and estates, a general bankruptcy 
would soon be the result. Without ceasing to regret 
and detest his methods, I learned to see the reasonable- 
ness of the second Marquis's view of the alarming situ- 
ation. The population had simply outgrown the means 
of decent subsistence from the carefully cultivated 
small holdings which were the general rule. Had 
it not been for the frugality and self-helpfulness of 
the people, the crisis of general poverty would have 
come when the inflated war prices ceased, or at least 
in the short-crop year of 1826, when the corn raised in 


Breadalbane, although the hillsides were cultivated as 
far up as any cereal crop could be expected to ripen 
in the most favourable season, did not supply meal 
enough for two-thirds of the people. But the " calanas " 
of the women, especially as long as flax-spinning con- 
tinued in a flourishing condition, brought in a good deal 
of money ; and for many years " Calum a Mhuilin " 
(Calum of the Mill), otherwise Malcolm Campbell, road 
contractor, Killin, led out a host of young men to make 
roads in various parts of the country, and these returned 
with their earnings to spend the winter at home. These 
sources of profit were beginning to dry up when the old 
Marquis died. 

What came of the dispersed ? The least adven- 
turous or poorest of them slipped away into the nearest 
manufacturing town, or mining districts where there was 
a demand for unskilled labourers. There some of them 
flourished, but not a few of them foundered. The larger 
portion of them emigrated to Canada, mainly to the 
lyondon district of Ontario, where they cleared forest 
farms, cherished their Gaelic language and traditions, 
prospered, and hated the Marquis more, perhaps, than he 
rightly deserved when things were looked at from his 
own hard political-economy point of view. 


POPULATION IN 1831, 1841, 1851, 1881, AND 1911, OF AU, THE 

1831 1841 1851 1881 1911 

Aberdalgie 434 360 343 297 278 

Aberfoyle 660 543 514 465 1102 

Abernethy 1915 1920 2026 1714 1297 

Abernyte 254 280 275 275 209 

Arngask 712 750 685 547 652 

Auchterarder 3182 3434 4160 3648 3175 

Auchtergaven 3417 3366 3232 2195 1250 

Balquhidder 1049 871 874 627 734 

Bendochy 780 783 773 715 502 

Blackford 1897 1782 2012 1595 1374 

Blair-Athol 2495 2231 2084 1742 1342 

Blairgowrie 2644 3471 2497 5162 

Callander 1909 1665 1716 2167 1977 

Caputh 2303 2317 2037 2096 1565 

Cargill 1628 1642 1629 1348 1329 

Clunie 944 7^3 7 2 3 582 474 

Collace 730 702 581 409 324 

Culross . 1484 1444 1487 1130 1499 

Comrie 2622 2471 2463 1858 1447 

Bron 464 441 394 335 256 

Dull 4590 3811 3342 2565 

Dunbarney 1162 1104 1066 756 862 

Dunkeld 2032 1752 1662 791 628 

Dunning 2045 2128 2206 1639 1145 

Enrol 2992 2832 2796 2421 2083 

Findo-Gask 428 436 405 364 357 

Forgandenny 913 796 828 617 565 

Forteviot 624 638 638 618 524 

Fortingall 3067 2740 2486 1690 

Fossoway and Tulliebole 1576 1724 1621 1267 805 

Foulis-Wester 1681 1609 1483 412 704 

Glendevon 620 157 128 147 in 

Inchture 878 769 745 650 545 

Kenmore 3126 2539 2257 1508 686 

Killin 2002 1702 1608 1277 913 

Kilmadock 3752 4055 3659 3012 2272 

Kilspindie 760 709 684 693 498 

Kincardine 2455 2232 1993 1351 

Kinclaven 890 880 881 588 468 

Kinfauns 732 720 650 583 558 

Kinnaird 461 458 370 260 172 



1831 1841 1851 1881 1911 

Kinnoull 2957 2879 3134 3461 4076 

Kirkmichael 1568 1412 1280 849 421 

Lethendy and Kinloch 708 662 556 404 327 

Little Dunkeld 2867 2718 2155 2175 1945 

Logierait 3138 2959 2875 2323 1371 

Longforgan 1638 1660 1787 1854 1997 

Madderty 713 634 593 527 438 

Meigle 873 728 686 696 856 

Methven 2714 2446 2454 1910 1843 

Moneydie 300 315 321 233 232 

Monzie 1195 1261 1199 753 428 

Monievaird and Strowan 926 853 790 700 438 

Moulin 2022 2019 2022 2066 2518 

Muckhart 617 706 685 601 528 

Muthill 3297 3067 2972 1702 1431 

Redgorton 1866 1929 2047 1452 1086 

Rhynd 400 402 338 297 205 

St.Madoes 327 327 288 316 258 

St. Martins 1135 1071 983 741 630 

Scone 2268 2422 2381 2402 2389 

Tibbermore 1223 1661 1495 1883 2443 

Trinity-Gask 620 620 597 396 360 

Tulliallan , 3550 3196 3043 2207 2091 

Weem 1209 890 740 474 391 

POPULATION IN 1831, 1841, 1851, 1881, AND 1911, OF ALL THE 


Ardchattan and Muckairn 2420 2264 2313 2005 2047 

Ardnamurchan 5669 5581 5446 4105 3172 

Campbeltown 9472 9539 9381 9755 9497 

Craignish 892 970 873 451 325 

Dunoon and Kilmvm 2416 2853 4518 8002 6107 

Gigha and Cara 534 550 547 382 326 

Glassary 4054 5369 4711 4348 

Glenorchy and luishail 1806 831 1450 1705 931 

Inveraray 2233 2277 2229 946 919 

Inverchaolain 596 699 474 407 371 

Jura and Colonsay 2205 2291 1901 1343 843 

Kilbrandon and Kilchattan . . . . 2833 2602 2375 1767 1370 

Kilcalmonell and Kilberry 3488 2460 2859 2304 815 

Kilchoman 4822 4505 4142 2547 1459 

Kilchrenan and Dalavich 1096 894 776 504 357 

Kildalton 3065 3315 3310 2271 1471 

Kilfinan 2004 1816 1695 2153 928 

Kilfinichen and Kilviceuen .... 3819 4102 3054 1982 1403 

Killarrow and Kilmeny 7105 7341 4882 2756 2552 

Killean and Kilchenzie 2866 2401 2219 1386 1019 


1831 1841 1851 1881 1911 

Kilmartin 1475 1213 1144 8n 582 

Kilmodan 648 578 500 323 264 

Kilmore and Kilbride 2836 4327 3131 5142 7154 

Kilninian and Kil more 4830 4322 3954 2540 1811 

Kilniver and Kilmelf ord 1072 970 714 405 392 

Knapdale, North 2583 2170 1666 927 656 

Knapdale, South 2137 1537 2178 2536 2100 

Lismore and Appin 4365 4193 4097 3433 3279 

lyochgoilhead and Kilmorich . . . 1196 uoo 834 870 1023 

Morvern 2036 1781 1547 828 635 

Saddell and Skipness 2152 1798 1504 1163 964 

Small Isles 1015 993 916 550 396 

Southend 2120 1598 1406 955 767 

Strachur and Stralachan 1083 1086 915 932 700 

Tiree and Coll 5769 6096 4818 3376 2214 

Torosay 1889 1616 1361 1102 959 

POPULATION IN 1831, 1841, 1851, 1881, AND 1911, OF AU,THE 


Abernethy 2092 1920 1871 1530 1228 

Alvie 1092 972 914 707 564 

Ardersier, 1268 1475 1241*2086 1913 

Ardnamurchan 5669 5581 5446 4105 3172 

Boleskin and Abertarff 1829 1876 2006 1448 1791 

Cawdor 1187 1150 1202 1070 859 

Cromdale 3234 3561 3990 3642 1920 

Croy 1664 1684 1770 1709 1384 

Daviot and Dunlichity 1641 1681 1857 1252 907 

Dores 1736 1745 1650 1148 794 

Duthil 1920 1759 1788 1664 1345 

Glenelg 2874 2729 2470 1601 1638 

Inverness 14324 15418 16496 21725 25669 

Kilmallie 4210 5397 5235 4157 3704 

Lilmomvaig 2869 2791 2583 1928 1234 

Kilmorach (including Beauly) . 2709 2694 3007 2618 1811 

Kiltarlity 2715 2896 2965 2134 1523 

Kingussie and Insh 2080 2047 2201 1987 2199 

Kirkhill 1715 1829 1730 1480 1237 

Laggan 1196 1201 1223 917 754 

Moy and Dalarossie 1098 967 1018 822 696 

Petty 1836 1749 1784 1531 1263 

Urquhart and Gleninoriston ... 2942 3104 3280 2438 1675 

Urray 2768 2716 2621 2478 1848 


Barra 2097 2363 1873 2161 2620 

Bracadale 1769 1824 T 597 9 2 9 805 

* Including 948 military and militia in Fort-George in 1881. 









.... 4765 






.... 3900 






.... 3415 





North Uist 

.... 4603 






.... 3441 






.... 2756 





Small Isles 







.... 3487 





South Uist 

.... 6890 






, , 2962 





POPULATION IN 1831, 1841, 

1851, l88l, AND 







... 1437 






... 2892 






... 1956 






... 2023 






... 2900 






... 1159 





Fearn '. 

... 1023 
... 1695 













... 4445 






... 715 






... 1479 






... 1556 






... 1605 






... 1887 






... 1240 






... 2139 












... 4615 






... 2136 






... 934 






... 1404 





Resolis or Kirkmichael 

... 1470 






... 1799 






... 2916 






... 3078 






,... 1809 





Urquhart and I<ogie-Wester 

... 2864 






... 2768 







... 3011 






... 3067 






... 5491 






... 3041 






POPULATION IN 1831, 1841, 1851, 1881, AND 1911, OF AH THE 

1831 1841 1851 1881 1911 

Bower 1615 1689 1658 1608 1393 

Canisbay 2364 2306 2437 2626 1866 

Dunnet 1906 1880 1868 1607 1147 

Halkirk 2847 2963 2918 2705 2041 

I,atheron 73Q 7637 8224 6675 4512 

Olrig 1146 1584 1873 2002 1450 

*Reay 2881 2811 2506 2191 1811 

Thurso 4679 4881 5096 6217 4732 

Watten 1234 1966 1351 1406 1079 

Wick 9850 10393 11851 12822 12772 

POPULATION IN 1801, 1811, 1821, 1831, 1841, 1851, 1871, 1881, 

1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1871 1881 1911 

Assynt 2419 2479 2803 3161 3178 2989 3006 2781 2111 

Clyne 1643 1639 1874 1711 1765 1933 J 733 lSl2 1749 

Creich 1974 I 9^>9 2354 2562 2852 2714 2524 2223 1713 

Dornoch 2362 2681 3100 3380 2714 2981 2764 2525 2724 

Durness 1208 1155 1004 1153 1109 1152 1049 987 830 

Eddrachillis . 1253 II 47 I22 9 J 9 6 5 l6 99 T 57 6 I 53 J 5 2 5 1259 

Farr 2408 2408 1994 2073 2217 2403 2019 1930 1673 

Golsp 1 *e 1616 1391 1049 1149 1214 1529 1804 1556 1685 

Kildonan . ... 1440 1574 565 257 256*2288 1916 1942 1786 

Lairg 1209 1354 1094 1045 913 1162 978 1335 995 

I/oth *374 ^S 2008 2234 2526 *64O 583 584 367 

fReay 2406 2317 2758 2881 2811 2506 2331 2191 1581 

Rogart 2022 2148 1986 1805 1501 1535 1341 1227 892 

Tongue 1348 1493 1736 2030 2041 2018 2051 1929 1609 

* The lands of Helm sd ale and others previously in the parish 
of Loth were, about this time, added to Kildonan, which accounts 
for this large increase. It also accounts for the decrease in Loth. 

f Note that Reay is given both in Caithness and Sutherland 
records same figures. The parish lies one hah in each county. 


NOTE A. (See Page 115.) 

The following pertinent observations appeared in the 
Dundee Advertiser, of 10th January, 1914. They are 
from the pen of a notable Dundee lawyer, Mr. John 
Walker, who has made a special study of the legal aspects 
of the Highland Clearances : 

At the time of Patrick Sellar's trial the ruthless evic- 
tions carried out by the Stafford family had been so long 
in process of execution that no one had the slightest 
doubt of the facts of these taking place. The question 
tried was not whether they took place, but whether they 
were carried out, in one particular instance, in such a way 
as to directly cause the death of Donald M'Beath and 
Janet M'Kay, two helpless, old, bedridden people. The 
trial took place at Inverness. Of the 15 jurors 8 were 
landed proprietors, and the rest were mostly either 
factors or those interested in factors. The most of the 
witnesses for the prosecution were evidently terrified 
to say one word against the accused. When Sellar was 
arrested, he emitted a declaration which was put in evi- 
dence at the trial, and, to be strictly fair, I shall confine 
myself to that. The gist of it is as follows : In Decem- 
ber, 1813, the crofting lands were advertised to let, and at 
the set, where apparently the lands were disposed of to 
sheep farmers, a paper was read that the removed 
tenants would get allotments " in the lower part of the 
county." " That Lord and Lady Stafford directed the 
declarant (Sellar) to offer at the set for any farm he chose 
a few pounds beyond the highest offerer ; and they 
directed Mr. Young on his so offering to prefer him." 
That thus Sellar got possession of the farms of Rhiloisk 
and Rossal. That in April, 1814, decrees of removing 
were got against all the tenants on these farms. That 



the ejections were carried out in June, 1814, and " that 
his directions to the officers were that they should law- 
fully eject the tenants, and that after ejecting . . they 
should remove the roof of every house in Rhimsdale 
excepting those occupied by families, wherein sickness 
was mentioned to have been." That he was present at 
the first part of the ejections (of the towns of Garvault, 
Ravigill, Rhiphail, and Rhiloisk), but after they had 
ejected from a few houses and had unroofed these the 
tenants of the others " in the neighbourhood yielded 
obedience to the warrant, and removed themselves." 
" Interrogated. If the declarant's orders to the officer 
and party were not to throw down the couples and 
timber of the different dwelling-houses, barns, kilns, and 
sheep cots ? Declares that the declarant directed the 
officers ... to remove the tenants' property and effects 
from the premises ; and thereafter to unroof the huts 
to prevent them from retaking possession after the 
declarant should leave that part of the county." Sellar 
himself admitted burning only in one case. The pro- 
ceedings from a judicial aspect were largely a farce, as 
can be judged from the fact that the first evidence ad- 
duced for the defence consisted of written certificates 
from three landed proprietors, who did not appear, as to 
" Mr. Sellar's character for humanity," and that these 
certificates, although not evidence, were founded on in 
Lord Pitmilly's charge to the jury. But the important 
thing is that Sellar's declaration implicates Lord and Lady 
Stafford as being by their own instructions the direct 
instruments of putting this tyrannical under-factor 
in the position of rendering homeless some hundreds 
of their helpless tenants. The little crofts were made 
into large sheep farms, which were advertised to let to the 
highest offerer, and the exposure was a farce, because the 
Sutherland family had personally arranged that Sellar 
was to be allowed to cap the highest offer. One would 
require a double-power microscope to see the noble 
philanthropy of that transaction ! I have extracted the 
above summary from the report of the trial, which was 
prepared and circulated by Sellar's own junior counsel. 


On the other hand, the stories yet told in Sutherland 
represent a much harsher state of matters. I personally 
have talked with men whose fathers were as young chil- 
dren turned out on the hillside to see their little cottages 
burned to the ground, and I have had pointed out to me 
the sites of these same cottages and crofts, where now 
there is nothing but miles and miles of dreary waste ; 
and this did not happen in one or two instances, but in the 
whole of Strathnaver, Strathbrora, and many other 
places in all parts of the county. 

NOTE B. (See Page 218.) 

The following interesting letter has been handed to the 
Editor by Mr. J. Stewart Bannatyne, solicitor, Glasgow : 


" September 21 st, 1912. 
" Dear Sir, 

" In reply to your letter of the 6th inst., and after con- 
sulting the older inhabitants, I beg to inform you that it 
was John Bannatyne who rescued Mrs. J. M'Kinnon, her 
sister and another woman, from compulsory emigration, 
but it was John Crawford who rescued John M%ean. 
I know the women and MXean as well as I know my two 
fingers, and heard the whole story from their own lips 
different times. 

" Both my father and mother were eye-witnesses of 
people being chased like wild cattle over the hills, not in 
Barra, but in North and South Uists. People can 
hardly believe now what took place then, and what my 
mother, who died in my arms at the fall of last year, told 
me it would be enough to make the devil himself desper- 
ate, if I am not using too strong an expression. 

" There is a man still living at Mallaig, Inverness- 
shire, named Ewen M'Dugald, who sailed with John 

" People nowadays are trying to deny that such 


brutalities were carried out by landlords, but they need 
not attempt such nonsense. I have no doubt but the 
descendants of the perpetrators of those acts are ashamed 
of the deeds and no wonder. 

" Yours faithfully, 

" DON. M'Aui,AY. 

" Solicitor, Glasgow." 

NOTE C. (See page 234.) 

In the Inverness Courier for nth October, 1837, appears 
the following : 

A large body of emigrants sailed from Tobermory, 
on the 27th September, for New South Wales. The 
vessel was the " Brilliant," and its size and splendid 
fittings were greatly admired. " The people to be con- 
veyed by this vessel are decidedly the most valuable that 
have ever left the shores of Great Britain. They are of 
excellent moral character, and, from their knowledge 
of agriculture, and management of sheep and cattle, 
must prove a most valuable acquisition to a colony like 
New South Wales." The Rev. Mr. Macpherson, of 
Tobermory, preached a farewell sermon before the party 
sailed. The total number of emigrants was 322, made up 
as follows : From Ardnamurchan and Strontian, 105 ; 
from Coll and Tiree, 104 ; from Mull and lona, 56 ; from 
Morven, 25 ; and from Dunoon, 28. There were two 
teachers and two surgeons. A visitor from New South 
Wales presented as many of the party as he met with 
letters of introduction, and expressed himself highly 
gratified with the prospect of having so valuable an 
addition to the colony. A Government agent super- 
intended the embarkation. 

Jamieson & Munro, Ltd., Printers, Stirling. 


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